ISO Highlights Nanotechnology Standardization Efforts

As the advancement of nanotechnologies paves the way for a broad scope of global applications ranging from consumer products to health sciences and beyond, standards are crucial to ensure consistency and accuracy related to nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently highlighted the ongoing efforts of ISO Technical Committee(TC) 229 on Nanotechnologies in its June issue of ISO Focus magazine.

Nanotechnologies and nanomaterials have massive potential for revolutionizing processes and products that impact lives around the world. “Nanotechnology,” which refers to the manipulation and control of matter in the nanoscale (approximately 1 to 100 nm) is utilized in a number of industry sectors— and its applicability is growing rapidly. As the ISO article points out, nanotechnology-enabled products increased from $339 billion in 2010 to $713 billion in 2012.

In 2005, ISO formed TC 229 on Nanotechnologies, with four working groups (WG) focused on the development of international standards in the areas of terminology and nomenclature; measurement and characterization; health, safety, and environment; and materials specifications. 

A decade since its inception, ISO TC 229 has published 42 standards and other technical specifications and reports, with another 26 currently in various stages of development. ISO’s article emphasizes TC 229’s efforts in nanotechnology terminology, including its role in developing scientifically based nanotechnology vocabulary that helps meet the needs of lawmakers, regulators, and scientists. 

“Information has been packaged so that government and industry can make informed decisions on the economic potential of nanotechnology,” the article states. “The standards published create a smooth transition from the laboratory to the marketplace, promoting progress along the nanotechnology value chain and facilitating global trade.”

Always a major player in nanotechnology standardization activities, the U.S. has leadership of ISO TC 229 WG 3, with Dr. Vladimir Murashov of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) serving as Convener of this international WG. To ensure the U.S. is strongly represented throughout TC 229’s areas of activity, the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 229, accredited and administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), formulates and delivers U.S. positions and proposals to ISO in all areas of nanotechnology. Mirroring ISO TC 229’s four-WG structure, the U.S. TAG is made up of U.S. private- and public-sector experts in nanotechnology who serve as international project group experts, as well as delegates for ISO TC 229 meetings, with Steve Brown of Intel Global Environmental Health and Safety serving as overall TAG Chair.

As the potential reach of nanotechnologies continues to grow, TC 229’s work in progress will play an important role in the global advancement of nanotechnology standardization in critical areas such as characterization of specific nanomaterials and health and safety practices for manufacturers working with those nanomaterials. The technical committee will also focus efforts on cutting edge nanomaterials, such as graphene and nanocellulose, as they become utilized in commercial products. 

ANSI serves as the U.S. member body to ISO. To read more about the ISO TC 229 efforts and program of work, please click here

For more on nanotechnology, find the ISO Focus article here, or contact Heather Benko, ANSI’s senior manager of nanotechnology standardization activities to learn more about TC 229 (, 212.642.4912).

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