Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a front-page story on a new study released by the University of Wisconsin’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center concerning emerging state regulation of nanomaterials. The paper, Bottom-Up Risk Regulation? How Nanotechnology Risk Knowledge Gaps Challenge Federal and State Environmental Agencies, is to appear in the next issue of Environmental Management, which is currently in press.
In the paper (find an abstract here), the authors focus on the potential shortcomings of federal regulation of nanomaterials, and ultimately, "suggest some ways government agencies can be better prepared to address nanotechnology risk knowledge gaps and risk management." The primary thrust of the paper is that state and local government will likely have to address risks and concerns of nanomaterials in the absence of complete information.
State and local regulation of nanomaterials is quickly becoming a favorite topic, and one we’ve been discussion for a while now (see two of our more recent posts here and here). And while it appears that Wisconsin may jump into the pond soon on nano regulation, nothing concrete has developed yet.
How states address the risks and concerns of nanomaterials, which at the same time addressing the existing data gap, will be just as important as federal action on the subject. States are in the precarious position of not wanting to stifle an emerging, and potentially lucrative in terms of jobs and tax revenue, industry, but at the same time they have an obligation to keep their residents safe. I look forward to reading the full paper and read the suggestions proposed by Maria Powell, Martin Griffin, and Stephanie Tai.