Legislation aims at nano safety strategy

Several American organizations and companies involved in nanotechnology have expressed support for legislation that will aid in the development and implementation of a comprehensive federal nanotechnology research strategy.

A group of nanotechnology stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, large and small companies and research organizations, announced in mid-January their support for the inclusion in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008 of a measure that will aid in the development and implementation of a comprehensive federal nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research strategy.

The legislation, signed by President Bush on December 26, 2007, expresses Congress’ intent that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contract with the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) to “develop and monitor implementation of a comprehensive, prioritized research roadmap for all Federal agencies on environmental, health and safety issues for nanotechnology.” Under the provision included in the legislation, Congress urges EPA “to contract or enter into a cooperative agreement with the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology within 90 days of enactment” (by March 21, 2008) to develop and monitor implementation of the research strategy.

The group that urged the Congressional measure says it is mindful of the significant efforts of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, but strongly believes that a comprehensive, independently developed research roadmap is urgently needed to identify the federal resources required to address the EHS implications of nanotechnology.

The group says BEST’s groundbreaking work in devising and overseeing EPA’s research on the health effects of airborne particulate matter serves as a useful model for the work BEST is expected to undertake for nanotechnology EHS research. The group anticipates that BEST will build upon its experience while taking into account ongoing related efforts to develop and oversee execution of an integrated strategy to guide federal EHS research needed to support the safe development and use of engineered nanoscale materials and technologies.

Group members include: Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Lux Research Inc., American Chemistry Council, NanoBusiness Alliance, Arkema Inc., Natural Resources Defense Council, BASF Corp., Oxonica, Bayer, PPG Industries Inc., DuPont, Sasol North America, Elementis Specialties Inc., The Dow Chemical Co., Environmental Defense, Unidym (formerly Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc.), Evonik (formerly Degussa), Union of Concerned Scientists, Foresight Nanotech Institute.