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OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN)

The BMUB is head of the German delegation to the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN).

Since 2006 the WPMN has been working on the development of internationally coordinated methods and strategies to identify and manage the potential risks of nanomaterials to human health and the environment. The results are made available to the public and aim to help the countries involved implement measures to ensure the safe use of nanomaterials.

The following participate in the work of the WPMN

  • 30 OECD member states (responsible delegates from ministries and specialised authorities)
  • Some non-member states, for example China and Thailand
  • European Commission
  • European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
  • Delegates from other organisations including industry, (BIAC), unions, ISO and environmental NGOs.

Key goals of the WPMN are

  • International exchange and cooperation on health and environmental policies relating to manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs)
  • Generating data on risk research in a large-scale testing programme (Sponsorship Programme)
  • Formulating proposals for the adaptation of
    • OECD guidelines for testing chemicals
    • Sample preparation and dosimetry for safety testing
    • Strategies on risk assessment
    • Development of principles for exposure assessment

Individual countries organise horizontal meetings of experts. These discuss the results of the testing programme and the latest research findings and derive recommendations for the adaptation of the OECD test guidelines. Germany participates in this through the BMUB, UBA, BfR, BAuA, BAM and with experts from research institutes such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ICEM), the Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology e. V. (IUTA), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UfZ) and the Universities of Münster and Jena. The results are adopted in the plenary and subsequently published on the WPMN webpages. 

The following horizontal meetings hosted by OECD members have taken place to date:

  • Inhalation toxicity (October 2011) – Netherlands
  • Ecotoxicology and environmental fate (January 2013) – Germany
  • Physical chemical properties (March 2013) – Mexico
  • Genotoxicity (November 2013) – Canada
  • Toxicokinetics (February 2014) – Republic of Korea
  • Categorisation of nanomaterials (September 2014) – US
  • Regulation of nanomaterials - Grouping and Read Across (April 2016) – EU Commission

Amendment of the OECD test guidelines

The Sponsorship Programme was one of the main testing programmes of the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN). The programme aimed to study representative sets of nanomaterials in order to collect and synthesise data about their physical and chemical properties and their impacts on people and the environment. With the support of co-sponsors, the lead sponsor countries were to conduct, coordinate and evaluate the testing programme. Germany was lead sponsor for titanium dioxide and co-sponsor for environmental aspects of nano-silver. The main goal was to develop, proposals for amending current chemical test guidelines to include nanomaterials.

The testing programme has now been concluded. Documentation is available on the OECD website.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) compiled results of the nanoscale titanium dioxide sponsorship programme and published them on its website.

The current challenge is to amend all existing test guidelines to include nanomaterials.