Nanomaterials can be found in everything from doughnuts to medicine to sunscreen. They have particles or constituents that are so small that they can infiltrate parts of the body – for example, cross the blood-brain barrier – that most other particles cannot. And because they are so small, they interact with living organisms and the environment in a different manner than larger forms of the same material. The problem is that we do not yet understand their potential negative impacts on human health and the environment.
Environment Canada and Health Canada are in the process of examining how the federal government should address nanomaterials under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. They produced and circulated a public consultation document in the spring of 2015.
In addition, Pollution Probe, in collaboration with the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED), convened a national nanomaterials workshop in January 2016 that focused on their implications for human health and the environment. Workshop information is posted here.