Inside the EPA published an article today entitled: "EPA Developing Strict Approaches for Overseeing Nanomaterials."

The article summarizes recent comments by Steve Owens — Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances — at a recent conference held in London which was sponsored by the London School of Economics, ELI, and WWI PEN.

Owens apparently criticized EPA’s past "distinct molecular identity" approach to determining whether nanoscale materials are considered New Chemical Substances requiring premanufacturing notice and approval under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). That approach examines nanoscale materials on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they have a separate and unique molecular identity from chemical substances already on the TSCA inventory. If the material’s molecular identity is not distinct, then it is not considered a New Chemical Substance requiring TSCA premanufacturing registration and approval (assuming it is not a significant new use of an existing chemical substance). This approach was first formalized in a 2008 EPA document which you will find here.

Regarding EPA’s current approach, Owens stated, "I cannot say what the outcome of that review will be, but I can tell you that we will be taking a fresh look at this issue and at the basis and reasoning for the decision made by the EPA last year."

Our prediction: Reversal of the current approach sometime in 2010. Stay tuned.