WASHINGTON – With new nanomaterials and nanotechnology products entering the market each week, regulatory oversight is much needed and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should act now, according to a report released Wednesday by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
In the report, “EPA and Nanotechnology: Oversight for the 21st Century,” former EPA assistant administrator for policy, planning and evaluation, J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, provides a roadmap for the EPA to better handle the challenges of nanotechnology, including the development of an adequate oversight system to identify and minimize any adverse effects of nanomaterials and products on health or the environment.
Nanotechnology, which has been called “the next industrial revolution,” could add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, but that will not happen if it is shrouded in uncertainty about its environmental, health and safety consequences, stated David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center.
Among the more than 25 steps that Davies recommends includes the creation of a joint research institute to conduct scientific research on nanotechnology effects; an additional $50 million from Congress each year for research on the health and environmental effects of nanotechnology products and processes; and the elimination of constraints that limit the EPA's ability to require that companies collect and share necessary data and other information the agency needs to oversee nanotechnology.
According to William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator from 1970 to 1973 and again from 1983 to 1985, who read and issued a statement about Davies' report, "Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential - for breakthroughs in medicine, in the production of clean water and energy, and in computers and electronics. It may be the single most important advance of this new century. But with its ability to fundamentally change the properties of matter, nanotechnology also may pose both the greatest challenge and biggest opportunity for EPA in its history. "
Click here to view the report.