Monday, February 15, 2010

New EU Report Calls for Responsible Development of Nanotechnology

One of the areas under discussion for TSCA reform in the United States is how to deal with nanotechnology. In short, nanomaterials are really really tiny versions of some common chemicals that are already on the TSCA Inventory, and thus theoretically already considered "existing chemicals." But EPA announced last month that they are planning to issue a series of rules to better regulate nanomaterials.

Now the European Union is getting into the act. Actually, they have been working on this issue for some time and had sponsored a forum called the "FramingNano Project" under the auspices of the EU's 7th Framework Programme. The group is about to publish its recommendations in a new report, a draft of which can be read here. The FramingNano project focused on environmental health and safety, ethical and legal issues, institutional and regulatory control, communications, and international harmonization. They called for the establishment of a nanotechnology governance platform that would both provide technical advise and help make decisions on appropriate actions moving forward.

Back in the US, the new TSCA law - or Kid Safe Chemical Act if it retains the previous Lautenberg offerings - will undoubtably mention nanomaterial control specifically. Whether as a separate Title or not, it is clear that nanotechnology is a growing field of new chemistry and as such imbues a rising public concern similar to the way GMOs were introduced created a public backlash. Look for there to be data requirements triggered by the nano-sized nature of the chemical, even if the chemical composition itself has been on the market already.

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