The U.S. Federal Government just released a national strategy for ensuring that environmental, health, and safety research needs are fully identified and addressed in the fast-growing field of nanotechnology.
The 2011 NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Research Strategy provides an integrated research framework to guide all Federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the Federal Government's ten-year-old program for nurturing and coordinating the emerging science of nanotechnology. The research strategy will help the NNI leverage Federal resources and infrastructure to most efficiently produce research data that can be used to protect public health and the environment, while continuing to fuel innovations and capture the value of those innovations for the benefit of the American people.
Drafted to be consistent with the NNI Strategic Plan, which was released in February, the EHS Research Strategy identifies research priorities in order to best drive the responsible development of nanotechnology, one of four main goals of the NNI Strategic Plan. The EHS Research Strategy is grounded in the principles of risk assessment and product life cycle analysis -- rational approaches to protecting health and the environment that involve measures of risk at every stage of a product's development, from preliminary handling of raw materials to final disposal of finished products.
The strategy identifies six core categories of research that together can contribute to the responsible development of nanotechnology:
(1) Nanomaterial Measurement Infrastructure,
(2) Human Exposure Assessment,
(3) Human Health,
(5) Risk Assessment and Risk Management, and
(6) Informatics and Modeling.
The strategy also aims to address the various ethical, legal, and societal implications of this emerging technology.
Notable elements of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy include:
- The critical role of informatics and predictive modeling in organizing the expanding nanotechnology EHS knowledge base;
- Targeting and accelerating research through the prioritization of nanomaterials for research; the establishment of standardized measurements, terminology, and nomenclature; and the stratification of knowledge for different applications of risk assessment; and
- Identification of best practices for the coordination and implementation of NNI interagency collaborations and industrial and international partnerships.
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