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NICNAS working definition for 'industrial nanomaterial'

At present, there is no internationally agreed definition for nanomaterials. NICNAS has developed a working definition for regulatory purposes. This working definition is broadly consistent with other available international definitions.

The NICNAS working definition is:

"…industrial materials intentionally produced, manufactured or engineered to have unique properties or specific composition at the nanoscale, that is a size range typically between 1 nm and 100 nm, and is either a nano-object (i.e. that is confined in one, two, or three dimensions at the nanoscale) or is nanostructured (i.e. having an internal or surface structure at the nanoscale)"

Notes to the working definition:

  • intentionally produced, manufactured or engineered materials are distinct from accidentally produced materials
  • 'unique properties' refers to chemical and/or physical properties that are different because of a material's nanoscale features when compared with the same material without nanoscale features, and result in unique phenomena (e.g. increased strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity) that enable novel applications
  • aggregates and agglomerates are considered to be nanostructured substances
  • where a material includes 10% or more number of particles that meet the above definition (size, unique properties, intentionally produced) NICNAS will consider this to be a nanomaterial. 
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