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Tag Archives: EHS

White House Issues Nanotechnology EHS Policy Statement

One June 9, the President’s Office of Budget and Management, United States Trade Representative, and Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a joint memorandum directed to all Executive branch departments and agencies entitled "Policy Principles for the U.S. Decision-Making Concerning Regulation and Oversight of Applications ofNanotechnology and Nanomaterials."

The Policy Statement is important because it confirms a "best-science" approach to potential nano-EHS issues, rather than a reactionary approach.  While this has been the stated approach of various federal agencies in the past, it is nice to see it reaffirmed across the entire federal government at the highest levels. The memorandum also reaffirms the importance of nanotechnology to the US economy, and recognizes the potential adverse economic consequences that knee-jerk regulation might have. 

Perhaps most interesting is that the memorandum repeatedly refers to the sufficiency of existing regulations to deal with potential nano-related EHS risks.  Some advocacy groups may have been holding out hope that the Obama administration would enact new nano-specific regulations. That is very doubtful given the tenor of the memorandum, which should provide industry with a measure of reassurance in this regard.


Request for Public Comment on Draft NNI Strategy for Nanotechnology Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research

On 01/13/2011, the Office of Science and Technology Policy published a notice in the Federal Register extending the time for filing comments for the Draft NNI Strategy for Nanotechnology Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research to 01/21/2011. The 2011 Draft Strategy is designed to replace and update  the 2008 Strategy and is the product of a series of stakeholder workshops, responses to a request for information published in the Federal Register on 07/06/2010 and comments filed online in response to questions posted on the NNI Strategic Portal.

The Draft Strategy, dated 12/06/2010, notes NNI’s EHS "Research Strategy provides guidance to the federal agencies as they develop their agency specified nanotechnology EHS research priorities implementation plans, and timelines." Added to that guidance

. . . is the inclusion of ethical, legal and societal implications (ESLI) of EHS research. . . .How nanotechnology research and applications are introduced into society, how transparent decisions are; how sensitive and responsible policies are to the needs and perceptions of the full range of stakeholders; and how ethical, legal and social issues are address will determine public trust and the future of innovation driven by nanotechnology.

Chapter 1 of the draft is introductory. Chapter 2 discusses the need to develop "A Comprehensive Measurement Infrastructure Consisting of a Suite of Complementary Tools", defined here as protocols, standards (reference materials), instruments, models and Data (further defined as "benchmark data that have been measured using validated protocols and reference materials  . . . or other well-characterized test materials . . .for …

An Industry-Driven Approach to EHS Issues

My new Nanotechnology Law & Business article — "An Industry Driven Approach to EHS Issues: ‘The NanoSafety Consortium for Carbon’" — can be found here.  The abstract follows.

The NanoSafety Consortium for Carbon (NCC) is an industry-driven group formed to proactively address potential environmental, health, safety, and regulatory concerns related to the commercia-lization of its members’ nanoscale carbon products. NCC was formed to take advantage of an offer by the EPA for a consortium of companies to providing testing regarding carbon nanotube toxicity. This article provides background on NCC’s activities, purpose, and goals.…

Massachusetts Issues Nano-EHS Guidance Document

This article originally appeared on the National Nanomanufacturing Network’s InterNano website on August 25, 2010.  It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

Massachusetts’ Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) recently released its “OTA Technology Guidance Document: Nanotechnology – Considerations for Safe Development” which has been in development for the past couple of years. The document begins by noting the tremendous positive influence nanotechnology is predicted to have in the fields of biomedical devices, electronics, clean energy, and materials engineering, while at the same time acknowledging that “there are indications of potential harm from certain exposures and release of engineered nanoparticles.” OTA also believes that there “is little uncertainty” regarding available means to prevent potential workplace exposure to nanoscale materials. Simply put, despite unknown EHS risks, there is more than adequate knowledge to control potential exposure in OTA’s view.

The end of the report contains a bibliography of existing resources covering state-of-the-art workplace good practices for nanoscale materials. The bibliography includes the “usual suspect” documents and websites published by NIOSH, ICON, German government, British Standards Institute, ED/DuPont, NanoSafe, and ASTM. From these primary sources, OTA distills a basic set of good practices for entities working with nanoscale materials in Massachusetts.

First, establish a risk reduction plan for facilities working with nanoscale materials. Such a plan should have two levels. First, it should attempt to protect against direct and immediate worker exposure. Second, it should also attempt to protect against possible releases during transport, use, and disposal after the …

Wisconsin Legislature to Study Potential Regulation of Nanomaterials

Following California’s lead, Wisconsin’s legislature recently formed a special committee to study the potential regulation of nanomaterials from an environmental, health, and safety perspective.   Our readers will be interested in the committee’s membership and focus:

Special Committee on Nanotechnology Chair: Rep. Chuck Benedict Vice Chair: Sen. Mark Miller Legislative Council Staff: Mary Matthias, Pam Shannon, and Larry Konopacki Member List

The Special Committee is directed to examine the human health and environmental concerns related to the manufacture, use, and disposal of nanomaterials and develop legislation to address these concerns. In particular, the Special Committee shall consider the establishment of methods to monitor nanomaterials by use of a nanotechnology registry system or the imposition of other disclosure requirements. The Special Committee shall also develop strategies to facilitate the development of nanotechnology to create and retain jobs in Wisconsin, including ways in which government can help nanotechnology researchers, small firms, and start-ups address potential risks and meet regulatory requirements.  

You can find prior articles about Wisconsin’s prior efforts here and here.  The committee’s first meeting appears to be scheduled for September 2010.…

New Contributing Editor for InterNano

John Monica, a partner in the DC office of Porter Wright   and frequent contibutor to this blog,  was announced as a new Contibuting Editor for Environmental, Health and Safety and Regulation for InterNano, a project of the National Nanomanufacturing Network.

As Contibuting Editor, John will be tasked with informing InterNano readers about the latest in EHS and regulatory developments, an area which will be of concern for nanomanufacturers and others in the nanotechnology field.

Congratulations John.…

Nano Networking and Nano EHS Forum

There are often developments in the nano legal world that do not fit into our traditional Nanotechnology Law Report format, yet might be of interest to some of our readers. You can now find these short postings and other musings on  .

Additionally, you can find me on linkedin under "John Monica," as well as on our new "Nano EHS Forum".  Please feel free to link in or to join our new discussion group.

Happy networking!…

Nanotechnology Health and Safety Forum — June 8 – 9, 2009

The Nanotechnology Health and Safety Forum which is being sponsored by Battelle, Porter Wright, University of Washington, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and several others is taking place on June 8 – 9, 2009 at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, Washington.

Keynote speakers include: Dr. Leroy Hood, Co-Founder of the Institute for Systems Biology; Dr. Kenneth Dawson, Director of the Centre for BioNano Interactions; Dr. Justin Teeguarden Senior Research Scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and recent co-author of the NRC’s assessment of the NNI’s EHS research strategy; Dr. Vladimir Murashov from NIOSH; Dr. Saber Hussain from the Air Force Research Laboratory; former U.S. Congressman George Nethercutt; and Dr. Robert Tanguay from Oregon State University.

The program has 4 units:  Framing the Unknown; nanoEHS Perspective; Insurance, Nanotechnology, and Risk; and Nanotechnology: The Next Ten Years.

I will be speaking on the Insurance, Nanotechnology, and Risk panel on the second day of the conference along with Steve Knutson from Zurich North America; Walter Andrews from Hunton & Williams; and William E. Barr from Chubb Insurance.

You can sign up for the conference here.  Hope to see you there.…

Nano EHS Database

The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) just released its newest project/tool, the Nano-EHS Database Analysis Tool.  To quote ICON, "This web tool allows you to obtain a quick and thorough synopsis of our Environment, Health and Safety Database using two types of analysis. The first is a Simple Distribution Analysis (pie chart) which compares categories within a specified time range. The second type is a Time Progressive Distribution Analysis (histogram) which compares categories over a specified overall time range and data grouping period."  The report will generate data in pdf or xls format as well as a report on available publications based on search categories, such as material studied, target receptors, and type of publication.

While the Tool only tracks ICON’s database, it will likely become a valuable resource for literature searches.  With the increased importance of regulatory schemes such as TSCA registrations, literature reviews will become more critical, even to smaller operations.  ICON’s Tool will assist those entities, and others seeking wide ranging topics addressing nanotechnology or nanomaterials.…

GAO Report on Nanotech Guidance

Sorry for coming a little late to the party on this one, it slipped past us until recently.  Back in March the Government Accountability Office, the agency that investigates tax dollar spending for Congress, released a report entitled "Nanotechnology: Better Guidance Is Needed to Ensure Accurate Reporting of Federal Research Focused on Environmental, Health, and Safety Risks."…

Survey Results Indicate Some North American Nanocompanies are Implementing EHS Strategies

On November 13, 2006, the International Council for Nanotechnology (ICON) published its recent survey results: “A Review of Current Practices in the Nanotechnology Industry.”  While the authors of the study admit the size of their survey was too small to provide statistically significant results, the article, nonetheless, provided insightful information on current global nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety practices (EHS).

The data presented regarding North American participants in the survey was particularly interesting.  Of 25 North American respondents, 21 offered their employees broad EHS training, while 18 offered nano-specific EHS programs. This training was most often in a classroom setting conducted by internal sources, using existing scientific literature as sources of health and safety information.  Beyond nano-related EHS training, the survey found that 19 of the North American respondents used fume hoods to contain possible nano-particle exposure; 16 used glove boxes; 13 used clean rooms; 12 used separate HVAC systems; 6 used closed piping systems; 7 used biological safety cabinets; and 5 used air pressure differentials.  Finally, 4 of the North American entities conducted their own nano-toxicology testing.

A lack of definitive scientific information regarding the potential health risks of nanotechnology was pointed to as the biggest hindrance to the further development of nano-EHS training and control.


Scientists Present “Five Grand Challenges” Regarding Future Nano-EHS Research

Earlier today, two top nanoscientists — Dr. Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson Center and Dr. Sally S. Tinkle, Assistant to the Deputy Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health — made a presentation at the Woodrow Wilson International Scholar Center announcing their new article appearing in November 2006 issue of Nature.

Maynard said that the article was the result of intense collaboration between 14 top nano-experts from numerous scientific disciplines who came together to create a 10-to-15 year framework for assessing the potential health risks posed by nano-technology. 

Press Release — International Association Of Nanotechnology

International Association of Nanotechnology 2386 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95825 1750 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111 Tel. 916-529-4119, Toll Free 1-800-766-6008 Fax. 916-244-7029 Email: Web site:

Press Release Press contact: Diana Rudé, Director, Government Relations November 7, 2006 (916) 529-4119

San Francisco. The International Association of Nanotechnology (IANANO) sponsored a panel discussion on environmental health and safety at its 3rd International Congress of Nanotechnology (ICNT), held on October 30 – November 2, 2006 in San Francisco. IANANO convened the panel in recognition of the current information gap concerning the potential health risks associated with nanotechnology.

Speakers on the panel included two product liability attorneys – John C. Monica, Jr. of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, Cleveland, Ohio, and Antony Klapper of Reed Smith LLP, Washington, D.C.; and Dr.  Justin Teeguarden, Senior Research Scientist, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland,  Washington and Matthew Hull, principal Investigator from Luna Innovations, Inc, Blacksburg, Virginia. …