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March 10th, 2010
How products and technologies are regulated by the EPA, as well as by other agencies that have jurisdiction over most nanomaterials, such as the Food & Drug Administration, is driven by the impacts on human health. For nanomaterials, this has meant that the regulatory agencies have spent the last few years funding research on, and trying to obtain accurate information about, their toxicity, how they may enter the human body, and what the body's reaction would be to these substances.
To this end, in 2008, the EPA launched a two-year program that provided industry and others with an opportunity to voluntarily provide data on toxicological and other risks of nanomaterials, and to participate with the EPA in developing a program to test, monitor and mitigate those risks. However, a year into the program, the EPA registered its disappointment that data on approximately 90% of potentially commercially available nanoscale materials had not been reported.
As a result, EPA recently signaled that it is willing to use its existing authority to obtain this risk data. That is, the EPA has the option of compelling industry to submit all existing data on human health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials.
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