Home > Press > U.S. Government Delays Nanotechnology Safety Measures
Expert warns Congress that safety questions put nanotech enterprise at risk
U.S. Government Delays Nanotechnology Safety Measures
Washington, DC | Posted on October 31st, 2007
Want to buy a bag of carbon nanotubes-in quantities from a few grams to hundreds of kilograms (100 kilograms = approximately 220 pounds)? With a credit card and Internet access, you can. But is the U.S. government doing enough to ensure the safety of these materials and the hundreds of other nanotechnology commercial and consumer products currently on the market?
The answer is a resounding no, says Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies chief scientist Andrew Maynard. The materials safety data sheet for carbon nanotubes--which provides workers and safety personnel with information on proper handling procedures--treats these substances as graphite, the material used in pencils. But carbon nanotubes are as similar to pencil lead as the soot on my barbeque grill at home is to diamonds.
According to Maynard, This is just one example of the yawning knowledge gap between the nanomaterials entering commerce now and their safety. And this uncertainty over how to develop nanotechnologies safely, hamstrings regulators, hinders nanobusiness, and confuses consumers.
Dr. Maynards remarks are from his testimony today at a hearing held by U.S. Congresss House Science Committee. A copy of his written statement is available online at http://www.nanotechproject.org .
According to Maynard, filling this knowledge gap will not be easy, but it is essential and must be done quickly if nanotechnology is to succeed. He recommends the following necessary steps:
Establish a clear, top-down risk research strategy with the resources required to ensure its implementation;
Create a new federal advisory committee to allow transparent input and review from industry, scientists, labor groups, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders;
Allocate approximately 10 percent of the U.S. governments nanotechnology research and development budget to goal-oriented nanotechnology environment, health, and safety research-a minimum of $50 million annually for research directly tied to oversight and regulatory needs and an estimated $95 million per year for exploratory research that is conducted within the scope of a federal strategic research program; (Previous analysis by Maynard shows that in 2005 the U.S. government spent approximately $11 million on highly relevant risk research.)
Launch a public-private research partnership program, with cost-sharing between industry and government, to address immediate and critical research questions on effective oversight; and
Appoint a top-level government leader responsible for the action needed to address the environment, health and safety challenges of nanotechnology.
There is no doubt that nanotechnology has the potential to make the world a better place and that members of the National Nanotechnology Initiative have great intentions to do the right thing. But given what is at stake here-the quality of our environment, the future vitality of the American economy, and the health of workers and consumers-good intentions are not enough, said Maynard.
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 flea is roughly 1 million nanometers wide. More than $50 billion in nanotechnology products were sold worldwide in 2006. By 2014, Lux Research projects that $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology-about 15 percent of total global output.
About The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
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, please click here
Phone: (202) 691-4016
Copyright © Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
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.
Scientists refine formula for nanotube types: Rice University theorists determine factors that give tubes their chiral angles September 17th, 2014
New non-invasive technique could revolutionize the imaging of metastatic cancer September 17th, 2014
Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners: September 17th, 2014
Nanoribbon film keeps glass ice-free: Rice University lab refines deicing film that allows radio frequencies to pass September 16th, 2014
Wear-resistant ceramic powder maximises component lifespan in high-stress applications: Innovnano’s nanostructured 3YSZ offers improved tribological performance for manufacturing components September 18th, 2014
IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting To Celebrate 60th Anniversary as The Leading Technical Conference for Advanced Semiconductor Devices September 18th, 2014
FEI Opens New Technology Center in Czech Republic: FEI expands its presence in Brno with the opening of a new, larger facility September 18th, 2014
Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014
Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014
Sunblock poses potential hazard to sea life August 20th, 2014
Analytical solutions from Malvern Instruments support University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers in understanding environmental effects of nanomaterials July 30th, 2014
NNCO Announces an Interactive Webinar: Progress Review on the Coordinated Implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy July 23rd, 2014