The latest meeting of the International Standards Organisation’s Technical Committee on Nanotechnologies (ISO/TC 229) was held in Singapore between 7 and 12 November. Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood AM represented Australia at the meeting and provided the following report.
Sponsored by the Singapore Chemical Industry Council and A*STAR, a research and development agency for smart manufacturing, the meeting was held under the auspices of the Singapore Standards Council. Although it was the Committee’s nineteenth meeting this was the first time a country had hosted a meeting twice.
Over a hundred and seventy delegates from thirty-seven countries attended.
The highlight of the meeting was the establishment of a "Products and Applications” Working Group to sit alongside those dealing with: Terms and Definitions; Measurement and Characterisation; Environmental Health and Safety and Materials Specifications.
The new Working Group, under Korean leadership, will work closely with all other working groups and also with the two Task Groups on Consumer and Societal Dimensions and Sustainability. During the meeting, several projects came to completion and will be published in 2017.
Of particular interest to consumers is the "Plain Language Explanation of Selected Terms", written for decision makers who may not be familiar with the terms used in the science of nanotechnology.
Besides the formal meetings of each working group and several of their project groups, there was a plenary discussion on the topic of ‘A Global Perspective - How can Standards support nanotechnology based innovation’, which was well attended.
The Terms and Definitions Working Group reported that it intends to bring together all the terms and definitions from the 80004 vocabulary series into one comprehensive document in a graduated process, under which, as each relevant standard or technical specification is revised, it will be added to the document.
The Consumer and Societal Dimensions Task Group noted that there is to be a revision of the Business to Consumer Standard Audit and that it may undertake a second survey from national member bodies to assess how well they are incorporating consumers’ interests into their work. The first survey was sent out six years ago so it was considered timely to update this information.
The Sustainability Task Group was pleased to see that the sustainability checklist they had devised was being used more frequently by project leaders introducing new work items but the Group wants to ensure that it is used whenever it is appropriate and are looking to tailor some of the questions more specifically to different working groups.
On 9 November delegates enjoyed an evening tour of the city of Singapore followed by dinner at the Singapore University during which our hosts were thanked for their warm hospitality.
To date, there has been no announcement of where the next annual TC 229 plenary meeting will be held but there are interim meetings planned for each working group throughout 2017.