Nanotechnology and advanced materials are both highly innovative areas, providing opportunities for economic growth by revolutionising current manufacturing techniques, across all industrial areas such as energy, transport and health.

What are nanomaterials?

Nanomaterials are chemical substances and materials with unique properties compared to their conventional form. There are three general types of nanomaterials: naturally occurring particles, incidental nanoparticles and engineered nanomaterials (ENM). ENMs find use in multiple applications such as advanced materials, display technologies, electronics, nutrition, cosmetics and medical drug design.

Regulation of man-made nanomaterials is challenging as different nanoforms of the same chemical substance can have different properties and often a number of different nanoforms is present within a single product.

In the area of advanced materials, EU legislation such as Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), has been driving innovation through the requirements to replace materials hazardous to human health or harmful to the environment. However most of the existing regulations were designed to deal with the risks of conventional materials.

For new, advanced materials being developed and most commonly entering commercial markets, it is often unknown how these will behave once released to the environment. Hence, existing regulatory regimes may not be fit for purpose to deal with potential risks posed by advanced materials.

Uncertainty about the potential health and environmental impacts of the unregulated release of nanomaterials is a driver for governments and legislators worldwide to review the scope of current legislation and consider the need to develop nano-specific policy governing their handling and release.

Nanomaterials and future policy - who will be affected by regulations? 

Regulations targeted at nanomaterials are likely to affect any organisation/industry involved in the production, handling or potential release (deliberate or accidental) of nanomaterials into the environment.

Although no direct legislation is currently in place, existing COSHH regulations place a duty of care on employers to carry out risk assessments for work that could potentially expose employees to hazardous substances.

Companies handling nanomaterials are therefore obliged to ensure that any members of their workforce that face exposure have sufficient information, instruction and training to avoid risks to their health. Organisations that fail to carry out sufficient safety checks may be at risk from the legal and financial costs of non-compliance.

Why us? 

Ricardo Energy & Environment (parent company of NCEC) is leading industry in the measurement and classification of nanomaterials, as well as helping government develop practical regulations that control the risks of release to the environment. This policy work means we are ideally placed to offer advice and support to business on what future regulations are likely to affect the private sector and how best firms can prepare.

NCEC is nationally recognised as the UK’s leading body in chemical safety. As such, our experts can help employers implement safeguards in the workplace by providing specialist advice on COSHH assessments, compliance auditing and checking as well as health and surveillance monitoring for suspected nanomaterial concentrations.

Ricardo Energy & Environment has over 25 years’ experience in providing gas borne particle measurements. In-house air quality specialists can provide a multivariate service, using a range of analytical techniques and instruments to produce comprehensive particle mapping of nanomaterials in the work environment.

In addition to our measurement services, Ricardo Energy & Environment is currently also supporting the European Commission in reviewing the environmental impact of nanomaterials. Feeding into policy development and implementation, our team of technical specialists are providing valuable insight on material hazards and risks to address gaps in environmental policy. This work provides unique insight and early visibility into what nano-related regulations are likely to come into effect in future.

Together, Ricardo Energy & Environment and NCEC, have an unrivalled depth of knowledge and experience in providing consultancy support in particle mapping, occupational health and chemical risk and legislation. Wherever your business requires support – be it in operational processes or compliance management - our specialists can help you understand your nanomaterial output and its legislative impacts.


Full life-cycle regulatory support and guidance 

From particulate characterisation, technical calibration and risk assessments, right through to regulatory compliance, our in-house team of cross disciplinary experts can provide the expertise needed to ensure you are able to:

  • Prepare and comply with existing and emerging regulation and legislative standards
  • Maintain a safe working environment for employees
  • Responsibly manage nanomaterials production, handling and disposal
  • Avoid cost of noncompliance

With experts in chemical risk, waste management and industrial pollution control, Ricardo Energy & Environment/NCEC can provide specialist support in both the technical and practical aspects of regulation.

Our services 

Measuring and monitoring

  • UKAS accredited calibration and measurement services:
    •      Calibration of solid particle measurement systems
    •      Calibration of particle number counters individually or as part of a dilution system
  • Particle mapping (special and temporal particle distributions)
  • Particle abatement (strategies, processes and solutions)

Health and Safety (training and preparedness)

  • Safe handling
  • Occupational health
  • Hazard and Risk Assessment

Regulatory compliance

  • REACH services
  • Risk assessment
  • Material characterisation
  • Techno-economic support for compliance decisions
  • Legislative horizon scanning, to inform current activities and future investment planning

If you have any questions on nanomaterials in the workplace or would like more information on any of the above support services, please contact us or download our whitepaper "Nanomaterials in the workplace".