EDF Health

Selected tag(s): National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)

A hint of movement in the Super Slo-Mo that is nanoregulation at EPA under TSCA

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Nearly 4 years ago, EPA sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a pair of draft proposed rules that would require reporting of certain information by makers of nanomaterials.  The proposed rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seemed by all measures to have fallen into a black nano-hole. 

But earlier this week, a smidgen of movement was discernible on the EPA regulatory tracker entry for this long-dormant activity.  What appears to have happened is that EPA has withdrawn the original proposed rules and resubmitted one of them to OMB.  Dropped, apparently, is the proposed significant new use rule (SNUR), which would have required companies proposing to commercialize a nanomaterial for a new use to first notify EPA so that it could conduct a safety review.  Retained is the other half of the original pair of proposed rules, an information reporting rule under the authority of section 8(a) of TSCA.  While details are not yet available, that proposal would require companies currently making nanomaterials to report basic information to EPA.  Read More »

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Regulating nanomaterials to life, not death

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.

Come again?

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 »

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Is the Window Closing?

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

As one who has closely followed the emergence of nanotechnology, I am sure I was not alone several years ago in welcoming what appeared to be a refreshingly new attitude among a broad range of stakeholders toward the introduction of this new set of technologies and materials.  Calls from my organization to "get nanotech right the first time" were echoed widely.  Perhaps the most frequently used metaphor, though, was that a "window of opportunity" had opened to do things differently this time.  But I increasingly fear that the window is closing. Read More »

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Clump Change: Challenging conventional wisdom about nanoparticle aggregation

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

In some nanotechnology circles, it is almost a mantra that, once released to the environment, nanoparticles will inevitably aggregate or agglomerate into larger masses and thereby lose their nanoscale-related properties and, by implication at least, any associated risks.

But can we count on nanoparticles released to the environment to self-regulate their own risk so conveniently? Read More »

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Mid-course Corrections: House Passes NNI Reauthorization Bill

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 5940), by a vote of 407-6.  Among other changes, the bill calls for a number of much-needed improvements in how the NNI addresses health and environmental concerns associated with nanotechnology.  See EDF’s news release issued today.

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What Was the White House Thinking?

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

It’s been a few months now since the White House took the unusual step of articulating some “Principles for Nanotechnology EH&S Oversight.” Given recent events, it’s worth again reflecting on this official memorandum, which was signed by the heads of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and sent to the heads of all federal agencies and departments.

Despite the title, it’s very hard not to read this document as one intended primarily to throw up barriers to effective oversight. Read More »

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