On April 16, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that, due to a technical problem, it is unable to verify receipt of contact information from anyone who subscribed to the e-mail notification list on the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) Nanotechnology web page from October 18 to November 1, 2006, and again from January 18 to January 23, 2007. According to EPA, it has corrected the problem and is now compiling a list of stakeholders to contact as the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program moves forward. EPA requests that anyone who subscribed to the e-mail notification during these periods do so again.
On April 11, 2007, the European Commission (EC) announced that the report prepared by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) regarding the appropriateness of the risk assessment methodology for assessing the risks of nanomaterials is available for comment. Comments are due May 23, 2007. EC states that the report “provides the Commission with a sound scientific approach on how to modify the Technical Guidance Documents of the EU chemicals legislation in regard to nanomaterials. The report provides proposals for general and specific modifications of risk assessment of human health and the environment, describes a staged strategy for the risk assessment of nanomaterials and identifies areas of further research.”
On April 3, 2007, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) released its second quarterly update on the Voluntary Reporting Scheme (VRS) for engineered nanoscale materials. According to the update, DEFRA has received a total of six submissions since VRS’s launch in September 2006, four of which were from industry and two from academia. DEFRA has liaised with groups representing the UK nanotechnologies industry and has made direct contact with companies involved in the sector. From these contacts, DEFRA believes that “a number of VRS submissions are being prepared and will be delivered” in the near future. During discussions with industry, DEFRA sought feedback on VRS, and industry raised the following issues: uncertainty regarding the scope of VRS; resources; and confidentiality issues. The next update will be published in June 2007.
In mid-March 2007, Representative Jim Saxton (R-NJ), the ranking minority member of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a new Congressional study on nanotechnology. On balance an extremely positive report, the JEC Study “discusses the range of sciences currently covered by nanotechnology,” describes “what nanotechnology is and how it relates to previous scientific advances,” as well as “the most likely future development of different technologies in a variety of fields,” and includes a review of the federal government’s current nanotechnology policy. Importantly also, the report urges three changes pertinent to the use of nanotechnology in products: product labeling; disclosure to FDA of safety testing and publication of any adverse results; and enhanced public education in the area of nanotechnology.
The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) and Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) announced on March 22, 2007, they have launched a monthly online journal that contains citations and links to articles on the environment and health impacts of nanotechnology. The ICON and CBEN coalition launched the first online database of nanomaterial scientific findings in August 2005, but the new journal -- The Virtual Journal of Nanotechnology Environment, Health & Safety (VJ-Nano EHS) -- “has taken the concept one step further,” the coalition said. The virtual journal organizes the information contained in the existing database into a reader-friendly monthly journal format. New features include a rotating guest editorship and a series of papers on topics of interest taken from the database. Contents of the journal are searchable. In the future, the coalition said, the journal will include a section on the most cited nanotechnology environment, health, and safety papers.
On January 22, 2007, ISO published a report entitled Workplace Atmospheres -- Ultrafine, Nanoparticle and Nano-Structured Aerosols -- Inhalation Exposure Characterization and Assessment, which includes information on the potential health effects of nanoaerosols, sources of occupational nanoaerosols, exposure assessment strategies, particle ensemble characterization methods, size-resolved characterization, online chemical analysis, single particle analysis, and electron microscopy sample collection and preparation. The report states that its aim is “to provide generally accepted definitions and terms, as well as guidelines on measuring occupational nanoaerosol exposure against a range of metrics.” ISO intends the report to address an immediate need and establish an essential step for developing future exposure assessment standards for nanoaerosols.
At the 2007 GlobalChem Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Lynn L. Bergeson presented slides on “Nanotechnology: What’s New.” Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. co-sponsored this important conference.