Home > Press > Nanotech Safety Needs Specific Govt. Risk Research Strategy and Funding
"Prioritizing nanotechnology risk research isn't rocket science," said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies chief scientist Andrew Maynard. Dr. Maynard's remark is in his testimony today before the federal government's first public meeting focused exclusively on research needs and priorities for the environmental, health and safety risks of engineered nanoscale materials.
Nanotech Safety Needs Specific Govt. Risk Research Strategy and Funding
Washington, DC | Posted on January 3rd, 2007
"The specific health and safety questions that are important to be addressed for nanotechnology are reasonably straightforward," according to Maynard. "And a lot already has been published about what we know and do not know about the potential risks and about how to fill existing research gaps."
"Far harder is getting the federal government to take action in three critical areas: first, documenting what relevant risk research exists; second, ensuring that agencies responsible for oversight and related research—the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Insttute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)—are adequately funded; and third, developing a robust, top-down research plan that can be implemented by the U.S. government and used for collaborations with industry and with researchers in other countries," said Maynard.
During his presentation Maynard mixed a powdered nano calcium and magnesium dietary supplement into a glass of water to help illustrate key risk research questions the federal government needs to tackle: what effect do airborne nanoparticles have on the lungs, do nanoparticles penetrate the skin, what happens to nanoparticles in water, how do they behave in the gastrointestinal tract, and what happens to nanoparticles when they are poured down a drain and enter the waste stream?
Maynard points out that these are "obvious questions" but "ones that should be considered when prioritizing research." "It is important to remember that risk research has a purpose—to protect people and the environment from harm." Maynard emphasizes that "While exploratory research has its place, it is not always the best model for providing workable answers to definite questions needed by regulatory agencies."
"Nanotechnology is no longer a scientific curiosity. It is in the workplace, the environment and the home. But if people are to realize nanotechnology's benefits—in medicine, communications, and energy production—the federal government needs a master plan for identifying and reducing potential risks. This plan should include a top-down risk research strategy, sufficient funding to do the job, and the mechanisms to ensure that resources are used effectively. "
Maynard proposes that "The federal government invest a minimum of $100 million over the next two years in targeted risk research in order to lay a strong, science-based foundation for safe nanotechnology." According to Maynard's analysis, despite investing more than $1 billion annually on nanotechnology research, U.S. government spending on highly relevant nanotechnology risk research is only $11 million per year.
Maynard's presentation, which is available online at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/nano , draws heavily from his 2006 report, Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk, and from a recent paper in Nature, "Safe handling of nanotechnology" (Maynard et al., vol. 44, 16 November 2006).
About Woodrow Wilson International Center
Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. More than $32 billion in products containing nano-materials were sold globally in 2005. But 2014, Lux Research projects that $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology.
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. For more information about the project, log on to http://www.nanotehproject.org
The Pew Charitable Trusts is a national charitable organization serving the public interest by informing the public, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $248 million in fiscal year 2007 to provide organizations with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and international affairs.
For more information, please click here
Copyright © Woodrow Wilson International Center
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Leti Presentation at IEDM 2013 Will Report Phase-Change Memory Developments for Microcontroller Embedded Applications December 7th, 2013
Leti Announces Update of UTSOI Model that Allows Designers To Improve Trade-Off between Performance and Power Use December 7th, 2013
Steve Janack to Join Behan Communications and Lead Firm’s New Innovation Practice Group December 7th, 2013
Optical Quality Improvement of Electrical Circuits’ Electrode Zinc Oxide Nanowires December 7th, 2013
Synthesis of Hydrogel Nanocomposite Based on Protein to Eliminate Industrial Pollutants December 5th, 2013
Turning waste into power with bacteria — and loofahs December 4th, 2013
The inner workings of a bacterial black box caught on time-lapse video November 25th, 2013
Rice scientists ID new catalyst for cleanup of nitrites: Gold-palladium nanocatalysts set new mark for breakdown of nitrites November 25th, 2013
Magnetic nanoparticles could aid heat dissipation: Particles suspended in cooling water could prevent hotspots in nuclear plant cooling systems and electronics November 20th, 2013
Iran Extends Deadline for Paper Submission to Int’l Nanosafety Congress November 12th, 2013
NIA unveils its Regulatory Monitoring Database November 4th, 2013
York researchers discover important mechanism behind nanoparticle reactivity November 3rd, 2013
ZEISS Microscopes used to create images for Art Exhibit at Midway Airport: Art of Science: Images from the Institute for Genomic Biology October 25th, 2013
New potential for touch screens found at your fingertips September 17th, 2013
Spectroscopy of Microscopic Features of Very Large Samples-The Solution From CRAIC Technologies August 28th, 2013
Making a Mini Mona Lisa: Nanotechnique creates image 30 microns in width August 5th, 2013