Expansion in the field of commercial nanotechnology-based products worldwide in recent years has focused attention on the need for Australia to engage with the international community to share information and keep pace with research into potential human health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials, and to help inform Australias regulatory responses to this technology.
In 2006-07, a NICNAS representative attended the first and second meetings of the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN). Elected as a vice-chair of the bureau for the WPMN, NICNAS led a project to develop an international database on human health and environmental safety research. The database will assist the international nanotechnology community to determine potential impacts as effectively as possible. A draft operational plan for the database was developed and approved at the second meeting of the WPMN in April 2007, and the project is due for completion in 2007-08.
At its second meeting, the WPMN agreed on a working definition of the term manufactured nanomaterials developed in close cooperation with Technical Committee 229 of the International Standards Organisation.
Other WPMN activities include: environmental health and safety research strategies on manufactured nanomaterials, safety testing of a representative set of nanomaterials, manufactured nanomaterials and test guidelines, cooperation on risk assessments and exposure measurements.