Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Study suggests new regulations needed to govern nanotechnology risks

Abstract:
In order for the potential health risks associated with nanotechnology to be properly assessed, the current regulatory system in the US must be changed. That's the conclusion of a new paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Minnesota.

Study suggests new regulations needed to govern nanotechnology risks

Vancouver, BC Canada | Posted on March 3rd, 2009

Nanomaterials are designed at the molecular level to have special properties, such as enhanced heat conductivity or strength, that are very different from the bulk forms of the same material. Thus, they have many promising applications, from handheld electronic devices to drug delivery techniques. However, because of the tiny size and distinctive qualities of nanomaterials, concern exists about their potential to damage the environment and the human body.

"Nanomaterials are unregulated in the United States, even though they are being manufactured and used in literally hundreds of products," says Prof. Milind Kandlikar, of UBC's Liu Institute for Global Issues and co-author of the new study. "What's more, the current regulatory system for chemicals is broken. Most chemicals present in workplace and community environments have not been subjected to health and safety risk assessments. We run the risk of repeating this situation for nanomaterials if the same processes are used."

The current regulatory system in the US places the burden for conducting risk assessments on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for occupational risks, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for non-occupational risks. However, these agencies do not have the budgetary means to adequately test nanomaterials. Nor do they have sufficient toxicity or exposure information from nanotechnology firms, since industry is not required to divulge this information.

Prof. Kandlikar, along with doctoral student Jae-Young Choi and Prof. Gurumurthy Ramachandran from the University of Minnesota, set out to assess the feasibility of shifting the responsibility for testing nanomaterials onto industry. The budgetary and time investments necessary to complete the testing process depend on the stringency of tests used and the amount invested by nanotechnology firms as a portion of their yearly research and development budget. The researchers estimate that costs associated with nanomaterial risk assessment in the US could range from $249 million to $1.18 billion, and might take decades to complete at current levels of investment in nano-hazard testing.

In order to avoid crippling the burgeoning nanotechnology industry, which is dominated by startups and small companies, the study supports a tiered risk assessment strategy similar to the REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) legislation used in the European Union. "Although REACH places the burden of proof on industry, it uses a tiered toxicity testing strategy to efficiently and effectively use scarce resources" says Kandlikar.

Kandlikar and colleagues suggest that testing tiers for nanomaterials be based on information including potential human exposures, as well as the toxicity of the material in question. By using such a tiered system to prioritize nanomaterial risk assessment, the task would become more time- and cost-effective for industry, while freeing regulatory agencies to monitor industry rather than be asked to do the research without the funding.

The REACH legislation has already changed how traditional chemicals have been produced, traded, and released. "Because US chemical companies with businesses in Europe need to comply with REACH, the legislation is forcing them to change their behavior," explains Kandlikar. However, requiring US companies to test, monitor, and mitigate the potential impacts of nanomaterials is likely to remain a challenge. "Because unregulated and voluntary oversight programs have been the norm for so many years," notes Kandlikar, "the political economy barriers to a REACH-like system in the US remain."

The paper "The impact of toxicity testing costs on nanomaterial regulation", is available online as an ASAP article in the open access journal Environmental Science and Technology (http://pubs.acs.org/journals/esthag/).

Funding for the study came from the US National Science Foundation and the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at UCLA.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Dr. Milind Kandlikar
Associate Professor
Liu Institute for Global Issues
251-1855 West Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Tel: (604) 822-6722


Christie Hurrell
Communications
UBC Centre for Health and Environment Research
3rd Floor, 2206 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3
Tel: 604-827-5622

Copyright © University of British Columbia

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.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Quantum physics just got less complicated December 22nd, 2014

Enzyme Biosensor Used for Rapid Measurement of Drug December 22nd, 2014

Universality of charge order in cuprate superconductors: Charge order has been established in another class of cuprate superconductors, highlighting the importance of the phenomenon as a general property of these high-Tc materials December 22nd, 2014

Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Announcements

Quantum physics just got less complicated December 22nd, 2014

Enzyme Biosensor Used for Rapid Measurement of Drug December 22nd, 2014

Universality of charge order in cuprate superconductors: Charge order has been established in another class of cuprate superconductors, highlighting the importance of the phenomenon as a general property of these high-Tc materials December 22nd, 2014

Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014

Environment

Nanoparticles Prove Effective in Removing Phosphor from Calcareous Soil December 10th, 2014

Detecting gases wirelessly and cheaply: New sensor can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone December 8th, 2014

Nanocatalysts Can Reduce Pollution Caused by Diesel Engines December 4th, 2014

Green meets nano: Scientists at TU Darmstadt create multifunctional nanotubes using nontoxic materials December 3rd, 2014

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Nutrition, Safety Key To Consumer Acceptance of Nanotech, Genetic Modification In Foods December 2nd, 2014

Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014

A gut reaction November 19th, 2014

Nanosafety research – there’s room for improvement October 29th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




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










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE