Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Federal Research Plan To Determine Nanotech Risks Fails To Deliver, Expert Says

Date:
September 17, 2007
Source:
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Summary:
Almost a year in the making, a federal plan to prioritize research on the potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of nanoscale materials has so many failings that its begs the question as to whether the government's 13-agency nanotechnology research effort is able to deliver an effective risk research strategy, according to David Rejeski, head of the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

Almost a year in the making, a federal plan to prioritize research on the potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) impacts of nanoscale materials has so many failings that its begs the question as to whether the government's 13-agency nanotechnology research effort is able to deliver an effective risk research strategy, according to David Rejeski, head of the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

"Currently, the federal nanotechnology risk research agenda is a bit like a ship without a captain, and it is unclear who has the responsibility to steer this ship in the right direction and make sure that it reaches its destination," Rejeski said in comments on the new government report, Prioritization of Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials.

Released for public review on August 16, the 8-page government report was prepared by a working group of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee (NSET), part of the federal government's National Science and Technology Council. In September 2006, the same working group issued a list of nearly 70 EHS research needs necessitated by advances in nanotechnology and subsequent commercialization efforts. The new report responds to some 40 public comments on the "prioritization criteria" described in last year's document.

Although the new NSET report pares down the original listing to a shorter laundry list of 25 research activities, the end result is a "simplistic list of priorities," says Rejeski. Furthermore, he states: "It falls far short of the carefully crafted, prioritized federal nanotechnology EHS research plan urgently called for over the past two years by leaders from both parties in Congress, industry, investment firms, scientists and consumer groups. Notably absent are important details like budget allocations, implementation time frames, and assigned responsibilities. The report reflects the government's failure--after allotting over $8 billion for nanotechnology research since fiscal year 2001--to develop a coordinated, prioritized, and adequately funded program to characterize potential risks to human health and the environment associated with processes and products involving engineered nanomaterials."

In comments submitted to the NSET, Dr. Maynard said, "It remains hard to see how this report or subsequent planned activities will help to provide the information that industry, regulators, and the public need to ensure the safe development and use of nanotechnology."

In the project's submission to the NSET subcommittee, Maynard and Rejeski both questioned whether following the priorities listed in the document would yield information that policymakers and regulators need to ensure that existing and future nanotechnology products are safe and environmentally sustainable.

Rejeski advised that funding for nanotechnology-related EHS research be directed toward agencies which have or support regulatory missions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "If this document is truly meant to serve as a basis for a risk research strategy, there is a long way to go," Rejeski said.

In 2006, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than an estimated $50 billion in manufactured goods. More than 500 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products are on the market from cosmetics to automobile parts to children's toy stuffed animals. By 2014, an estimated $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will use this technology.

"As the commercialization of increasingly sophisticated nanotechnologies gathers pace," Maynard said, "industry, regulators and the public need sound information, now more than ever, on which to base their decisions. They also need the assurance that there is a strategy in place to fill knowledge gaps about risks as fast and efficiently as possible."

About nanotechnology

Nanotechnology entails the measurement, prediction and construction of materials on the scale of atoms and molecules. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, and nanotechnology typically deals with particles and structures larger than 1 nanometer, but smaller than 100 nanometers. To put this into perspective, the width of a human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometers.

His full comments, along with those of project chief scientist Andrew Maynard, are available at http://www.nanotechproject.org.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. "Federal Research Plan To Determine Nanotech Risks Fails To Deliver, Expert Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913132920.htm>.
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. (2007, September 17). Federal Research Plan To Determine Nanotech Risks Fails To Deliver, Expert Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913132920.htm
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. "Federal Research Plan To Determine Nanotech Risks Fails To Deliver, Expert Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913132920.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) U.S. firms worry they’re falling behind in the marketplace as the FAA considers how to regulate commercial drones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates

Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) Winners of a contest for smart gun design are asking not to be named after others in the industry received threats for marketing similar products. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Captured The Sound Of An Atom

Scientists Have Captured The Sound Of An Atom

Newsy (Sep. 12, 2014) Scientists have captured the sound of a single atom by measuring its vibrations. We can't hear it, but it's reportedly the faintest sound possible. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 11, 2014) NASA captures video of a significant flare surging off the sun. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins