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NNI Releases 2011 Nano Strategy for Environment, Health & Safety

by Editor1 last modified October 23, 2011 - 12:22

The U.S. Government has released a national strategy for ensuring nanotechnology’s environmental, health, and safety research needs are fully identified and addressed.

NNI Releases 2011 Nano Strategy for Environment, Health & Safety

The 2011 NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Research Strategy (also known as EHS Research Study) provides an integrated research framework for all U.S. federal agencies participating in the U.S.’s National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) program for nurturing and coordinating the emerging science of nanotechnology. It aims to help NNI leverage U.S. federal resources and infrastructure to produce better research data for protecting public health and the environment, while also fuel nano-related innovations,

The EHS Research Strategy will provide guidance to all federal agencies work in nanotechnology related research, planning and outreach, said Dr. Sally Tinkle, NNI EHS Coordinator and Deputy Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO).

Dr. Tinkle specifically noted that the EHS Research Strategy “continues a trend in this Administration of increasing support for nanotechnology-related EHS research, as exemplified by new funding in 2011 from the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission and increased funding from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The EHS Research Strategy document identifies six core categories of research that together can contribute to the responsible development of nanotechnology:

(1) Nanomaterial Measurement Infrastructure,
(2) Human Exposure Assessment,
(3) Human Health,
(4) Environment,
(5) Risk Assessment and Risk Management, and
(6) Informatics and Modeling.

Notable elements of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy include:

  • The critical role of informatics and predictive modeling in organizing the expanding nanotechnology EHS knowledge base;
  • Targeting and accelerating research through the prioritization of nanomaterials for research; the establishment of standardized measurements, terminology, and nomenclature; and the stratification of knowledge for different applications of risk assessment; and
  • Identification of best practices for the coordination and implementation of NNI interagency collaborations and industrial and international partnerships.

Input for the EHS Research Strategy came from engagement with industry, academia, nongovernmental organizations and the public. It also incorporates recommendations received from external reviews of the 2008 NNI Nanotechnology-related EHS Research Strategy produced by the National Academies and a 2009 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The EHS Research Strategy is grounded in the principles of risk assessment and product life cycle analysis—rational approaches to protecting health and the environment that involve measures of risk at every stage of a product's development, from preliminary handling of raw materials to final disposal of finished products, Dr. Tinkle added.