On November 29, 2013, the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy published an initial assessment, available only in French, of the mandatory reporting of nanomaterials, which took effect January 1, 2013. Under Decree No. 2012-232, companies that manufacture, import, and/or distribute a “substance with nanoparticle status” in an amount of at least 100 grams per year must submit an annual report with substance identity, quantity, and use information. According to the Ministry, as of June 30, 2013, more than 930 reporters submitted over 3,400 statements concerning substances placed on the market in France in 2012.
The Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) recently published a report entitled Closing the Gap: The Impact of Nanotechnologies on the Global Divide, which looks at how nanotechnology-based inventions and their potential applications could be implemented in developing countries, and whether they could benefit the most underprivileged populations. The report examines obstacles and problematic issues that could arise, and addresses the following concerns:
- Will nanotechnologies reach the populations they wish to assist?
- What impact could they have on world trade and already weak economies?
- What of the unprecedented nature and uncertainties surrounding the risks of nanotechnology?
- Will inventors from the developing world have to circumvent challenging intellectual property rules in order to make full use of the technology?
The report discusses possible ways forward for the fair development of nanotechnologies, as well as the possibilities for scientists and entrepreneurs from low- and middle-income countries to scale-up the benefits for their countries with the help of international cooperation and global dialogue.
On November 28, 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that the Working Group for IARC Monographs Volume 111, “Some Nanomaterials and Some Fibres,” will meet September 30 to October 7, 2014. IARC states that “[d]etails will follow shortly.” This will include information concerning the call for data, call for experts, and request for observer status. During the meeting, the Working Group will review the latest available scientific literature and determine which classification is appropriate: Group 1, carcinogenic to humans; Group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans; Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans; Group 3, not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans; and Group 4, probably not carcinogenic to humans.
A&WMA Will Hold Webinar on Nanoscale EHS: Environmental Health and Safety Essentials Every Practitioner Is Obligated to Know
On December 10, 2013, the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) will hold a webinar entitled “Nanoscale EHS: Environmental Health and Safety Essentials Every Practitioner Is Obligated to Know.” The webinar description notes that possible environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications associated with nanoscale activities are resulting in a rapidly evolving regulatory climate. The webinar will examine nanotechnology and its applications, possible EHS implications, emerging regulations, and proactive approaches to reduce potential future liability. This is the introductory webinar in the Nanoscale EHS series.
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health released a report in October 2013 entitled Evaluation of the health effects of carbon nanotubes. According to the Institute, recent studies have suggested that some types of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) have similar effects as asbestos. The Institute states that the report “shows that rigid, long and needle-like MWCNTs induce inflammation and DNA damage in the lungs and in cultured cells, while flexible, long and tangled MWCNTs do not. It appears that the rigidity of MWCNTs is a key feature in triggering a specific inflammatory reaction and in causing cellular alterations involved in cancer formation.” The Institute states that this new information on the adverse effects of MWCNTs will be useful in assessing which forms of MWCNTs require regulatory attention and special safety measures in occupational settings.
On November 19, 2013, the National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Technology, and Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology requested public comments on the draft 2014 National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan provides the framework within which each National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) agency will carry out its nanotechnology programs and is intended to sustain coordination of interagency activities. The Strategic Plan includes the following goals: (1) advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program; (2) foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit; (3) develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and a dynamic infrastructure and toolset to advance nanotechnology; and (4) support responsible development of nanotechnology. According to the draft Strategic Plan, “success will be measured by continual and substantive progress toward the four goals.” The program component areas were revised to represent better the current state of nanotechnology, improving their alignment with the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan. Objectives in the draft Strategic Plan were revised to reflect advances in nanotechnology and evolving stakeholder needs. Sub-objectives were assigned to each objective to improve consistency among the goals. NNI requests comments of approximately one page or less in length (4,000 characters). According to the November 19, 2013, Federal Register notice, comments are due December 17, 2013. The NNI website states that comments are due December 18, 2013, however.
In November 2013, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) updated its precautionary matrix for synthetic nanomaterials, which industry can use to assess nano-specific health and environmental risks of nanoproducts. FOPH states that the precautionary matrix “enables the structured assessment of the ‘nano-specific need for precautions’ when handling synthetic nanomaterials.” FOPH intends the matrix to assist industry with due diligence requirements, and their “duty to exercise self-control opposite employees, consumers and the environment.” According to FOPH, the precautionary matrix can identify “potentially risky applications,” allowing the initiation of precautionary measures to protect people’s health and the environment. FOPH notes that the precautionary matrix “is upgraded in close cooperation with industry, science and trade as well as consumer and environmental organisations.”
Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) announced in October 2013 a voluntary guidance document on measuring airborne carbon nanotubes (CNT) in workplaces. The Technology Research Association for Single Wall CNTs (TASC), a consortium of nine companies and AIST, prepared the guidance, which is intended to provide a means of CNT safety management. The guidance summarizes the available practical methods for measuring airborne CNTs: (1) on-line aerosol measurement; (2) off-line quantitative analysis (e.g., thermal carbon analysis); and (3) sample collection for electron microscope observation. The guidance also presents measurement cases performed by TASC. TASC developed the guidance under the project “Innovative carbon nanotubes composite materials project toward achieving a low-carbon society,” which is sponsored by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The guidance notes that a specific method has not yet been definitively determined, and many challenges still remain.
The Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) is currently seeking authors, presenters, and panelists for its 107th Annual Conference and Exhibition, which will be held June 24-27, 2014, in Long Beach, California. The A&WMA Intercommittee Task Force (ITF) on Nanoscale Science and Engineering is sponsoring a track in the technical program that will span a wide array of subjects, including environmental policy, measurement, health effects, monitoring, management, and safety issues associated with the development and use of nanomaterials, nanotechnologies, and nanoscale products.
On November 8, 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a report entitled Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, which identifies and describes strategies for the engineering control of worker exposure during the production or use of engineered nanomaterials. NIOSH notes that there are currently more than 1,000 nanomaterial-containing consumer products available, including “makeup, sunscreen, food storage products, appliances, clothing, electronics, computers, sporting goods, and coatings.” According to the report, hazards involved in manufacturing and processing nanomaterials “should be managed as part of a comprehensive occupational safety, health, and environmental management plan.” NIOSH states: “Engineering controls are favored over administrative controls and personal protective equipment for lowering worker exposures, because they are designed to remove the hazard at the source, before it comes into contact with the worker.” The report includes specific conclusions and recommendations on the following topics: general; control banding; hierarchy of controls; engineering controls; administrative controls; and personal protective equipment.