Approximately 500,000 tons of nanomaterials have been placed on the French market in 2012. This figure is the result of the mandatory “census” required by the law. A first report, based on the data collected during the census was released by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

"This is the first time that all manufacturers, distributors or importers of substances in a nanoparticle size - a billionth of a meter length scale - must declare the uses and the annual quantities produced, imported and distributed on French territory," says the Ministry.

The first series of declarations, covering the year 2012, was collected via a dedicated web site [1]. In total, more than 930 registrants have made more than 3400 declarations.

Materials for cosmetics in the top three

Of these 500,000 tons, 280,000 tons were produced in France and 220,000 tonnes were imported.

Cosmetics and personal care products represent 6.1 % of reported uses, ranking in the third position of identified uses, behind the formulations (mixtures) of preparations and / or re-packaging (19.6% of all declarations), coats and paints, solvents, thinners (8.1%).

Despite difficulties in accurately identifying reported substances, the report includes a list of the substances for which the largest quantities (over 100 tonnes) were declared. The list is topped by: carbon black, silicon dioxide, calcium carbonate, titanium dioxide and aluminum oxide.

Industry reaction

As far as the industry is concerned, the Union of Chemical Industries (UIC) emphasized the strong mobilization of chemical manufacturers, despite practical difficulties with the collection system, but expressed its concerns regarding "the impact of this initiative on the chemical industry in France."

So far, France is the only country in the world that has implemented a mandatory declaration, while regulations concerning chemicals are almost exclusively developed at the European level, at least," said Jean Pelin, Director General of the UIC.

A second report will be published in January 2014.