Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


Home > Press > Federal Nanotech Risk Research Plan Still Comes Up Short

Inflated funding numbers, lack of overarching strategy and limited worker exposure research among shortcomings

Federal Nanotech Risk Research Plan Still Comes Up Short

Washington, DC | Posted on February 19th, 2008

An improved but still flawed government-wide plan for nanotechnology risk research is the result of a broken system. Federally-funded studies essential to managing possible risks from this cutting-edge technology should be guided by a top-down strategy tied to projected commercialization, expected human and environmental exposures, and the regulatory decision-making process.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative's (NNI) Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) Working Group recently released its strategy for nanotechnology environmental, health and safety research. The strategy outlines an improved focus on risk research for more than 20 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Earlier drafts of the strategy received widespread criticism from industry officials, policy experts and congressional lawmakers for being merely a list of general nanotechnology risk research categories. The new strategy makes substantial strides towards identifying prioritized research needs and assigning lead agencies to address these needs.

Also just released, the new EPA Office of Research & Development nanotechnology risk research plan appears to be in lock step with the NEHI strategy. The EPA plan includes important studies on risk assessment methods and life-cycle analysis to determine the eventual fate of nanomaterials.

But major hurdles still stand in the way of the public, industry and government obtaining a better understanding of the risks posed by nanomaterials - and how to limit those risks. Necessary resources for nanotechnology risk research are few and far between in relevant oversight agencies such as the EPA, FDA and CPSC. In addition, a limited investment by the NNI on occupational exposure research can only increase dangers to those most susceptible - workers.

"The truth is that while the NEHI made significant strides in this latest effort to present an improved nanotechnology risk research strategy, only about five of the more than 240 identified risk research projects focus on exposure assessment - which directly affects workers. These are the people who are on the front line and most likely to be exposed to potentially hazardous nanomaterials," says David Rejeski, the director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN).

"The document also fails to employ a 'top-down,' strategic approach aimed at directing funds and research at the places where there's likely to be the most risk," according to Rejeski. "The NEHI structure and plan are still broken. The plan is a collection of individual agency research programs and not a strategic approach appropriate to a technology projected to be incorporated into $2.6 trillion worth of products by 2014."

An earlier analysis by PEN shows that in FY2005, the U.S. government spent only about one percent of the overall $1.2 billion federal nanotechnology research investment on highly relevant risk research. For more information, see:

The current strategy suggests that things have improved, but according to Rejeski "only 40% of the listed research projects are highly relevant to understanding potential nanotechnology risks-the remaining 60% have only tangential relevance. Transparency over what is being done and what needs to be done is essential to strategic planning. The cited $68 million invested in nanotechnology risk research in fiscal year 2006 is an inflated estimate of work that directly addresses the issues, and that can only further confound the formulation of an effective strategic plan."

About Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture materials 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 $60 billion in products incorporating nanotechnology were sold globally in 2007. By 2014, Lux Research estimates this figure will grow to $2.6 trillion.


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.

The Pew Charitable Trusts ( is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

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

Colin Finan
Phone: (202) 691-4321 (work)
(202) 841-5605 (cell)

Copyright © Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Could candle soot power electric vehicles? New research shows candle soot can power the lithium batteries in electric cars October 8th, 2015

Oxford Instruments announces call for nominations for the 2016 Science Prizes for Europe and Americas October 7th, 2015

Leti Joins GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ Eco-System Partners With Focus on Supporting 22FDX™ Platform: GLOBALSOLUTIONSSM Partnership Will Enable Leti’s FD-SOI and ASICS Design-and-Fabrication Solutions on GLOBALFOUNDRIES Technologies October 7th, 2015

Dais Analytic Debuts Revolutionary Cooling Tower Technology: Nanostructured Aqualyte™ Technology Provides Alternative to Traditional Cooling Tower Methods, Reducing Germ-Infested Water, and Requiring Less Maintenance and Overall Cost October 7th, 2015


Global Engineering Firm DPS to Establish U.S. Advanced Technology Group Headquarters at SUNY Poly CNSE and Create 56 New Jobs Under STARTUP-NY Initiative October 6th, 2015

Big range of behaviors for tiny graphene pores: Like biological channels, graphene pores are selective for certain types of ions October 6th, 2015

Research improves efficiency from larger perovskite solar cells October 6th, 2015

Graphene teams up with two-dimensional crystals for faster data communications October 5th, 2015


Could candle soot power electric vehicles? New research shows candle soot can power the lithium batteries in electric cars October 8th, 2015

Latest Hygienic Products Presented in Iran Nano 2015 October 7th, 2015

From trees to power: McMaster engineers build better energy storage device October 7th, 2015

Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions October 7th, 2015

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Silver Nanoparticles Coating on Paper through Biological Methods September 22nd, 2015

Nanotech expertise earns Virginia Tech a spot in National Science Foundation network: New center's focus will be on earth, environmental nanotechnology September 16th, 2015

Nano in food and agriculture: Regulations require collaboration to ensure safety September 14th, 2015

Multi-million pound project to use nanotechnology to improve safety September 4th, 2015

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project

Car Brands
Buy website traffic