The European Commission has taken further action against hazardous chemicals in clothing, textiles and footwear by voting to add nanomaterial-specific information requirements to the legal text of its REACH programme for the first time.

The proposed changes, agreed by EU members states last week, will specify how nanomaterials should be regulated. As such, several annexes of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) programme will be amended to clarify registration requirements with regard to the controversial materials.

The requirements, they say, will address the "knowledge gap" on which substances registered under REACH are placed on the market as nanomaterials and in which quantities. It will also allow for the gathering of more information on their basic characteristics, their uses and how to handle them safely.

They will provide information on: basic characteristics; uses; safe handling techniques; potential risks to human health and the environment; and risk control methods.

The draft regulation is now subject to a three-month scrutiny by the Parliament and Council before being adopted by the Commission.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has already begun assessing the need to update existing, or issue new guidance to support registrants in complying with the new requirements.

As soon as the proposal is formally adopted, ECHA says it is encouraging registrants of nanoform substances to familiarise themselves with the amendments and assess what action they need to take to comply.