In a press release published on February 13, 2020, the Nanotechnologies Industries Association (NIA) announced the release of a position paper cautioning public authorities and the media on the use of the term “nanoplastic.” NIA argues that it is “a non-specific and ambiguous term, and qualifiers should be considered for accurate presentation to all audiences.” Specifically, the paper distinguishes between “incidental plastic nanoscale materials” that might be formed from degradation or wear of larger plastics and plastic nanomaterials that are “intentionally produced at the nanoscale to allow for specific product characteristics.” The presence of intentionally manufactured “nanoplastics” in the environment, it argues, “is expected to be very low as they are incorporated into products (i.e. bound in a matrix).”

The association agrees that the term “nanoplastics” is grammatically correct to describe plastics that exist at nanoscale lengths following the European Commission’s recommendation for size to be the only defining factor. It emphasizes that current measurement techniques are not able to differentiate between intentionally produced nanoplastics and those that exist as secondary plastics. Based on its current knowledge, the association says that there are very few nanoplastics that are intentionally produced, and their use is largely limited to scientific research laboratories.

Read More

NIA (February 13, 2020). “‘Nanoplastics’ terminology in focus – Position Paper from NIA.”

NIA (February 13, 2020). “Nanoplastics.”

Chemical Watch (February 18, 2020). “Nanomaterials sector: be specific when talking about ‘nanoplastics’.”