Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.
As we enter a new year and legislative season, we face a changed political climate where the thought of new regulation is anything but de rigueur. I will argue in this post that a little regulation would have done – and still could do – the world of nanotechnology a world of good.
Back when the debate over nanomaterial safety really got started, which I would place ‘round about 2004 (or was that just my first involvement in it?), there seemed to be broad agreement on first-order needs to ensure that nanotechnology would survive and thrive. The aim was to “get it right the first time,” by identifying and addressing potential risks up front and in the open. That meant we needed to adequately fund and direct risk research. We also needed to make sure adequate regulatory authority existed to address potential risks, ideally before they arose.
Most fundamentally, there was virtual consensus on the need for prompt action to ensure regulatory agencies had at hand the basic information they needed to understand the lay of the nano-land: what nanomaterials are already being produced and are in the pipeline; in what applications and products are they being used; and where along the nanomaterial lifecycle are the most likely points for potential releases and exposures.
With respect to this most fundamental of needs, I’m sorry to say that, in 2011, we are essentially no closer to achieving it than we were in 2004. Read More