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Nanotechnology in consumer products

chemical structure model

The term ‘nanotechnology’ has become more widely used in recent years to describe small particles of matter at the nanometre or molecular scale. Nanometre scale materials come in many different forms. Food and drinking water naturally comprise particles at the nanometre scale, and humans have always been exposed to nanometre scale particles from things like smoke, dust, ash, and fine clays through air, food and water.

Currently there are no mandatory standards covering the use of nanometre scale particles in consumer goods.


The National Enabling Technologies Strategy (NETS) under the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) provides a framework for the responsible development of enabling technologies such as nanotechnology and other similar new technologies as they emerge in Australia.  Responsibility for implementing the strategy rests with three areas of the Department:

  • National Measurement Institute (NMI)
  • Enabling Technologies Public Awareness and Community Engagement (PACE) Section
  • Enabling Technologies Policy (ETP) Section. 

The ETP Section provides policy coordination, facilitates uptake of enabling technologies, and provides secretariat services to several committees linked to NETS. The PACE Section seeks to increase the public awareness, knowledge and understanding of enabling technologies, including risks and benefits to enable a more informed public debate.

The ACCC determines the health risks of consumer products containing nanometre scale materials by investigating the possible:

  • hazards in the composite materials in products
  • potential exposure to these nanometre scale materials when using the product.

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) is the Australian Government regulator of industrial chemicals. NICNAS conducts scientific risk assessments of chemicals and maintains the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS). The ACCC is guided by the advice of NICNAS in relation to chemical substances (including nanometre scale particulates) and the status of a substance on the AICS.

Further information

For more detailed information please follow the link to the article on nano particles in consumer products.

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