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than 1nm-100nm. And then it adds this nice

little caveat that, for some materials, it can be

less than 50%, ‘between one and 50%’.”

The executive director said it was therefore

clear that graphene would be treated as a

nanomaterial. Yet consequently, such treatment

leads to graphene “falling under all of the health

and safety regulations for nanomaterials”. He

commented that both the United States and

Europe would have “some of the strictest”

regulations in regards to graphene, with most

implications on the commercial side.

“The toxicity of nanomaterials is an unknown,

but initial research indicates that there may be

health concerns,” he said, referencing the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) in the United States.

He said it is important to consider the

implications of manufacturing, handling and, as

an end user, receiving graphene and to take

precautions in regards to occupational health

and safety. He drew attention to a paper from

the EU’s Scientific Committee which specifically

identified graphene as a potential health risk.

Quoting the paper, Barkan said: “Reviews

suggest that graphene nanomaterials could exert

a considerable toxicity and that considerable

emissions of graphene from electronic devices

and composites are possible in the future. It is

also suggested that graphene is both persistent

and hydrophobic. Although these results indicate

that graphene may cause adverse environmental

and health effects, the results foremost show that

there are many risk-related knowledge gaps to

be filled.”

Solutions

Barkan described the regulatory environment

in the EU as “much tougher” and “much

stricter” than that in the United States, although

the US still has a “pretty tight” environment. He

then cited some recommendations to overcome

such issues from the ‘Nanomaterial Production

and Downstream Handling Processes’ report

by the National Institute for Occupational Safety

and Health, part of the CDC: “One is prevention

through design, so basically design your

processes in your systems to avoid exposures,

which makes eminent sense.

“Here’s one example … and I think this is actually worth reading word-

for-word. This is from the ISO Technical Specification 12805: ‘The need

for this technical specification arose in response to the failure of

specifications agreed between suppliers of manufactured nano-objects

and their customers to ensure delivery of material that responds

consistently to downstream processing or that is capable of generating

consistent performance in the final product between batches and lots.’

“That statement incorporated into the technical specification summarises

one of the biggest obstacles to actual commercialisation. If you as an

industry are going to move forward more rapidly than the history of

nanotubes … you can’t wait to have standards developed at the pace

that it’s going right now.”

Barkan called for actors to get involved in the development of these

standards, particularly in the ISO procedures, as well as encouraging

players to agree on standards amongst themselves, including among

competitors, and to help “educate the potential end user market”. He

said such steps are “in everybody’s interests in order to move

to commercialisation”.

“If I look at this statement … to me, this really sums up a huge obstacle;

I would even argue that if you don’t overcome this obstacle, you will never

get to a … serious, broadly integrated commercial market.

“It’s a very slow process, but industry has to work collaboratively … it’s

a non-competitive issue … it takes the confusion out of the market …

and it helps educate your end user.”

Regulatory environment

Turning his attention to regulation, Barkan referred to a definition from

the European Commission of a nanomaterial as “a ‘natural, incidental or

manufactured material’ that, for 50% or more of the particles, is less

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

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42

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : M AT E R I A L S

Barkan emphasised

the importance of

industry taking the

lead in determining

standards and

regulations