Nanomaterials and nanotechnology

At a scale of about 1 -100 nanometres, a chemical may have distinctively different properties (e.g. in chemical reactivity, strength and electrical and magnetic behaviours) to its conventional ('bulk') form. Industrial nanomaterials include chemicals deliberately engineered at this scale to take advantage of their novel properties.

While many of the novel properties of nanomaterials may be beneficial, concerns have also been raised about the risks that these novel properties may present to human health, workplace safety and the environment. Assessment of the risks of any chemical (include its nano-forms) involves consideration not only of its hazards, but also its uses and consequently the exposure of people and the environment to the chemical. Research into the potential hazards (the inherent property of an agent having the potential to cause adverse effects) of these materials is increasing, but is not yet comprehensive.

NICNAS regulates industrial nanomaterials that are used in products such as paints, dyes, inks and surface coatings, plastics, cosmetics and consumer goods. Other government agencies are responsible for regulation of nanomaterials in medicines, food, pesticides and veterinary medicines (see Chemical regulation in Australia for more information).

Select from the following links for further information on aspects of the regulation of industrial nanomaterials in Australia:

Last update 10 August 2018