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EPA Gets More Aggressive in Researching Impacts of 7 Common Nanomaterials

by Editor1 last modified January 20, 2010 - 00:55

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued details on its new approach to conduct more proactive research into the impact of manufactured nanomaterials on human health and the environment. NanoScienceWorks.org summarizes the 111-page report and offers a free copy for review.

EPA Gets More Aggressive in Researching Impacts of 7 Common Nanomaterials

Under EPA's new plan, the agency will concentrate research on seven types of manufactured nanomaterials. They include: single-walled carbon nanotubes, multi-walled carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, cerium oxide, nanosilver, titanium dioxide, and zero-valent iron.

In a formal finding, the EPA said these seven nanocomponents may require 'safety decisions' under existing or new regulations. The materials were also selected for scrutiny based on their current use in products, [The one exception to this is zero-valent iron, which potentially may be used in cleaning fluids.]

The purpose of EPA’s nanotechnology research program is to conduct focused research to inform nanomaterial safety decisions that may be made under the various environmental statutes for which EPA is responsible.

Obtain full EPA Nanomaterial Research Strategy report (11 pg) here.

EPA recognizes that the information generated through its research program is also likely to have use in areas beyond the Agency’s purview. EPA will collaborate across the government, industry, and the international community to implement this strategy. EPA’s in-house research program will leverage results from EPA grant programs, as well as collaborate with grantees to address the many challenging research issues outlined in this strategy.

Inside EPA’s Nanomaterials Research Strategy
EPA’s strategy focuses on four areas that take advantage of EPA’s scientific expertise as well as fill gaps not addressed by other organizations,” according to the EPA report’s executive summary.

EPA’s new agenda will focus nano-related research on these four themes:
  • Identifying sources, fate, transport, and exposure
  • Understanding human health and ecological effects to inform risk assessments and test methods
  • Developing risk assessment approaches
  • Preventing and mitigating risks

The report further explains that EPA’s Nanomaterial Research Program is designed to provide information to support nanomaterial safety decisions. EPA’s research is also aimed to help researchers and developers of commercial nano-derived uses to answer several key questions. Among them:

  • What nanomaterials, in what forms, are most likely to result in environmental exposure?
  • What particular nanomaterial properties may raise toxicity concerns?
  • Are nanomaterials with these properties likely to be present in environmental media or biological systems at concentrations of concern, and what does this mean for risk?
  • If we think that the answer to the previous question is “yes,” can we change properties or mitigate exposure?

EPA findings will join with on-going work at other government agencies and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) to provide advice on the responsible development of nanotechnology.

EPA’s latest revised, more pro-active stance on nantechnology research comes in the wake of a report last year in which the National Science Foundation criticized the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative’s effort to coordinate nano-related research as inadequate.