The Woodrow Wilson Center released a study entitled "EPA and Nanotechnology: Oversight for the 21st Century," authored by a former high-level EPA administrator, J. Clarence Davies. Mr. Davies argues that EPA oversight and regulation of nanotechnology is "urgently" needed. The Wilson Center has the full text of the report available here.
The report is summarized in this Science Daily article. The article notes the reaction from the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies:
"This new report seeks to encourage EPA, Congress, and others to create an intelligent oversight approach that empowers EPA and promotes investment and innovation in new nanotechnology products and processes," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center (PEN). "As both the chair and ranking minority member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology stated last year, ‘Nanotechnology is an area of research that could add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, but that won’t happen if it is shrouded in uncertainty about its [environmental, health and safety] consequences.’ "
The Science Daily article also summarizes the approach Davies recommends. Specifically, it appears that Davies is focusing on creating an industry-EPA partnership to study the toxicity of nanotechnologies and creating an inter-agency coordinating group (possibly involving FDA and OSHA) to oversee nanotechnology regulation. The eventual goal, it seems, is to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to expand EPA’s power to regulate the area. It is promising that Davies’ proposal involves significant industry cooperation in the development of any standards. One must hope that any actual regulations or amendments to the TSCA that come from this type of approach are properly balanced to encourage innovation and America’s entrepreneurial spirit while significantly mitigating any significant risk of harm from the use of nanomaterials.