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July 29th, 2008
BASF Corporation, General Electric Company, NanoFilm Ltd. and PPG Industries are the latest chemical companies to provide data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of an effort to determine whether nano-sized particles they use in products pose health hazards. The concern: whether there's a risk these microscopic particles, measuring up to 100 nanometers in length, can enter the lungs of chemical workers and become lodged in tissue there and in their throats. The EPA launched the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) in January and requested that companies provide the agency with info on the composition and volume of the nanoscale materials they manufacture, import, process or use.
A total of 13 companies have reported this information to the EPA on time for its July 28 deadline. Only three of those chemical providers--SouthWest NanoTechnologies, Inc., Swan Chemicals Inc. and Unidym--took the added step of sending the EPA their information and agreeing to participate in any in-depth data analysis programs that the EPA might propose at a later date.
The EPA plans to issue a report on its findings within two years; the results will be used to regulate chemicals with nanomaterials under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency hopes that a large sample of data will provide the science needed to rule out health and environmental hazards or rules needed to ensure the safe use and handling of chemicals infused with nano-sized particles. One goal is to nip any potential health problems in the bud before they become an issue as they did with asbestos.
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