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A report issued yesterday by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering called for tighter British and European regulation over nanotechnology to ensure public safety, according to BBC News.

While the panel did not call for a halt to nanoparticle production, it did say that more formal research of the tiny materials was “urgent.” The British science minister said the government response would come by the end of 2004. Nanomaterials will likely be regulated as “new chemicals” under existing U.K. and European legislation, which would allow for more stringent safety tests and labeling of any products containing the ultrafine particles.

“It is important that the regulations are tightened up so that nanoparticles are assessed, both in terms of testing and labeling, as new chemicals,” said Ann Dowling, chair of the working group that produced the report and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge.

The report comes as concerns have grown among academic chemists and environmental activists about the long-term safety of nanoparticles.

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