Nanotechnology life cycles, regulation subject of reports

(October 29, 2010) — The Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Studies in Sustainability series offers two white papers focused on nanotechnology.

"Emerging Nanotechnologies and Life-Cycle Regulation: An Investigation of Federal Regulatory Oversight from Nanomaterial Production to End of Life," investigates nanotechnologies’ potential risks to health and environment. Nanotechnologies promise many benefits for society, from modest improvements in consumer products to revolutionary changes in drug delivery and medical treatments. Over 1,000 nano-enabled products are currently on the market in the United States, and billions have been invested in future nanotechnologies. While nanotechnologies offer tremendous benefits for society, they may also pose significant risks. The same properties that enable novel applications may also lead to negative health and environmental consequences. These novel properties, coupled with a relative scarcity of information on nanomaterial hazards, make risk assessment and regulation a difficult task. This paper investigates the U.S. federal regulations that apply to a nanomaterial along its life cycle, from initial creation to end of life (EOL). Drawing upon the growing literature that explores the regulatory challenges posed by nanomaterials, this analysis investigates which regulations are expected to apply at each life-cycle stage, and the ways that nanomaterials challenge the applicability or enforcement of these regulations.

"Nanotechnology Regulation: Policies Proposed by Three Organizations for the Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act" discusses the current primary law governing nanotechnology in the United States and addresses its limitations as identified by three interest organizations. Also discussed are different policy recommendations that these organizations have suggested in regard to nanotechnology regulation. Nanotechnology involves the act of manipulating matter at the molecular level. Having the capacity to work at this scale has generated a lot of excitement: researchers have imagined using nanotechnology for a wide range of applications in disparate fields, from medicine and cosmetics to food packaging and environmental filters. This surge of interest has attracted enormous investments toward development while simultaneously producing significant anxieties over the potential harmful effects of nanomaterials. In particular, critics are concerned that the properties exhibited by nanomaterials are not fully known and advocate for a framework that regulates production.

Download the white papers at

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