The European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) has created a Nanopinion section, where it invites views from different contributors ranging from policy-makers and authorities to industry and civil society on their work and priorities related to nanomaterials on the EU market.  The first item, posted on September 16, 2019, is “EUON:  past, present and future,” written by Bjorn Hansen, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).  As reported in our July 11, 2019, blog item, in July 2019, ECHA finished a mid-term review to assess where it has succeeded and where it can improve over the remaining years of the mandate that it host and maintain EUON.  Hansen notes that the review highlighted areas where EUON can improve, including the need to:

  • Enhance its communication;
  • Provide more detailed information on nanomaterials for experts; and
  • Provide more simplified information on nanomaterials to the public.

In addition to the incorporation of two databases to the EUON, NanoData (the nano-technology knowledge base) and the eNanoMapper (with data and tools for the risk assessment of nanomaterials), EUON also produces independent studies on different safety aspects with the aim of generating new data on topical issues and complementing already existing research.  According to Hansen, EUON is preparing in final a study on the next-generation nanomaterials and working on three new studies:

  • Critical review of the factors determining dermal absorption of nanomaterials and available tools for the assessment of dermal absorption;
  • Critical review of studies on the reproductive and developmental toxicity of nanomaterials; and
  • Perception of nanomaterials among the general public.

As reported in our July 8, 2019, blog item, EUON recently launched a search tool that combines data submitted by companies in their registration dossiers under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, data collected about nanomaterials used as ingredients in cosmetic products under the Cosmetics Regulation, and data from the Belgian and French public national nanomaterial inventories.  Hansen predicts that the data available on nanomaterials “will see an exponential increase as of 2020 when new information requirements for REACH enter into force, feeding the EUON with more data for its various audiences.”  Industry will submit this new information via updates of their REACH registration dossiers.  EUON invites its stakeholders and partners to use Nanopinion “to share their views on anything and everything to do with nanomaterials, their safety and their benefits.”  Stakeholders who would like to contribute with a Nanopinion post of their own should contact EUON.

The September 10, 2019, issue of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Matters newsletter includes an article entitled “Keeping up with 3D Printing:  EPA Researchers Build on New Plastic Emissions Study.”  According to the article, EPA scientists, through an agreement with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), are investigating whether increased use of 3D printers can lead to unintended adverse impacts to human health.  EPA states that while there have been studies on the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from 3D printing, none have considered how the emissions change when certain additives are introduced to the 3D printing filament.  The scientists studied a commonly available filament that is sold both with and without carbon nanotube inclusions to determine whether VOC emissions changed between the two types of product.  The scientists quantified and characterized VOC emissions from carbon nanotube filaments under a variety of conditions intended to simulate the different heating, melting, and forming of plastics that can occur during 3D printing.  The scientists concluded that:  (1) the filaments with carbon nanotubes emitted two new VOC gases that could potentially pose an inhalation hazard to users printing several kilograms of material; (2) increased print temperature had the most significant effect on increasing VOC emissions, followed by increased length of time heating the material; and (3) carbon nanotube filament may “trap” certain VOC gases in particulates of the printed plastic.  The article notes that EPA’s research to understand exposure to and the health effects of nanomaterials is conducted as part of the interagency National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).  Other NNI members conducting research on 3D printer nanomaterials include CPSC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Federal Register notice on September 11, 2019, to provide an additional 30-day comment period on its proposed information collection project entitled “Survey of Engineered Nanomaterial Occupational Safety and Health Practices.”  84 Fed. Reg. 47957.  As reported in our April 24, 2019, blog item, on April 23, 2019, CDC published a Federal Register notice inviting comment on the proposed information collection project.  According to CDC, no comments were submitted in response to its April 2019 notice.  The goal of the project is to assess the relevance and impact of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) contribution to guidelines and risk mitigation practices for the safe handling of engineered nanomaterials in the workplace.

The notice states that research under this project will survey companies who manufacture, distribute, fabricate, formulate, use, or provide services related to engineered nanomaterials.  Under the project, the following activities and data collections will be conducted:

  • Company Pre-calls. Sampled companies will be contacted to identify the person who will complete the survey and to ascertain whether the company handles engineered nanomaterials.
  • Survey. A web-based questionnaire, with a mail option, will be administered to companies.  The purpose of the survey is to learn directly from companies about their use of NIOSH materials and their occupational safety and health practices concerning engineered nanomaterials.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is particularly interested in comments that will help:

  1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NIOSH, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  2. Evaluate the accuracy of NIOSH’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  3. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;
  4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses; and
  5. Assess information collection costs.

On August 30, 2019, the National Nanotechnology Initiative published its supplement to the President’s 2020 budget request.  The supplement serves as NNI’s annual report required under the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act and addresses the requirement for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reporting on its nanotechnology investments.  According to NNI, the President’s 2020 budget requests more than $1.4 billion for NNI, “a continued investment in basic research, early-stage applied research, and technology transfer efforts that are leading to the breakthroughs of the future.”  Since the inception of NNI in 2001, and including the 2020 request, NNI has received almost $29 billion in support, reflecting “the continued importance of investments that advance our fundamental understanding of and ability to control matter at the nanoscale, as well as the translation of that knowledge into technological breakthroughs that serve the American people.”

The President’s 2020 budget supports nanoscale science, engineering, and technology research and development (R&D) at 11 agencies.  The five federal organizations with the largest investments (representing 96 percent of the total) are:

  • S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) (nanotechnology-based biomedical research at the intersection of life and physical sciences);
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) (fundamental research and education across all disciplines of science and engineering);
  • S. Department of Energy (DOE) (fundamental and applied research providing a basis for new and improved energy technologies);
  • DOD (science and engineering research advancing defense and dual-use capabilities); and
  • S. Department of Commerce (DOC)/National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (fundamental research and development of measurement and fabrication tools, analytical methodologies, metrology, and standards for nanotechnology).

The supplement presents budget information and highlights of agency plans and priorities by Program Component Area (PCA).  It includes examples of progress toward the four NNI goals:

  1. Advance a world-class nanotechnology R&D 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 tool set to advance nanotechnology; and
  4. Support responsible development of nanotechnology.

On October 2, 2019, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) will hold a webinar on “Nanotechnology for a New Generation of Gas Sensors:  An Industrial Perspective on Fundamental, Applied, and Commercialization Aspects.”  According to the overview for the webinar, contemporary monitoring requirements of gases for applications ranging from environmental surveillance to medical diagnostics currently push the limit of existing detection.  The overview states that to extend current performance, “it is necessary to focus on sensing concepts and implementations that bridge the gap between the existing and required sensing capabilities.”  In the webinar, Dr. Radislav Potyrailo (GE Global Research) will discuss:  (1) possibilities for new principles of gas sensing based on nanomaterials and nanostructures; and (2) the development of sensors capable of quantifying individual chemical components in mixtures, rejecting interferences, and enhancing response stability in wearable, stationary, and other formats.  The overview notes that “[s]uch performance is attractive when advantages of traditional instruments are cancelled by application-specific requirements demanding unobtrusive form factors, low or no power consumption, and continuous operation.”  Webinar viewers may submit questions for Dr. Potyrailo to answer during the question and answer period.  Submitted questions will be considered in the order received and may be posted on the NNI website.  Registration for the webinar is now open.

On August 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the State of New York issued its decision in a challenge to New York’s (NY) Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (Disclosure Program) brought by the Household and Commercial Cleaning Products Association (HCPA) and American Cleaning Institute (ACI).  As reported in our June 8, 2018, blog item, the Disclosure Program requires manufacturers of cleaning products sold in New York to disclose chemical ingredients and identify any ingredients that appear on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern on their websites.  According to the Disclosure Program Certification Form and Program Policy, for each ingredient that is a nanoscale material, a term describing the nanoscale material should be disclosed.  HCPA and ACI filed suit against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in October 2018, arguing that the Disclosure Program is a rule rather than a guideline and was established in violation of the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA).  In its decision, the court found that the Disclosure Program is “null and void” and remitted the matter back to NYSDEC with the directive to comply with SAPA.  More information on the court’s decision is available in our August 30, 2019, memorandum, “NY Department of Environmental Conservation Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program Ruled ‘Null and Void.’”

The National Research Center for the Working Environment (NFA) in Denmark will hold a course on October 10, 2019, on the Nano-Risk Governance Portal, a new portal for the risk management of nanomaterials.  NanoSafety Cluster Week will be held October 7-10, 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and will include:

  • October 7, 2019: caLIBRAte Final Conference — Building Confidence on Risk Assessment and Governance of Nanomaterials;
  • October 8-9, 2019: Open Conference: Towards in silico nanosafety assessment — integrating experimental and computational approaches; and
  • October 10, 2019: Three parallel events:
    • NanoSafety Cluster open meeting, Working Group meetings, and Steering Group meeting;
    • Introduction and training in the caLIBRAte Nano-Risk Governance Portal and supporting risk assessment and management tools; and
    • Introduction and training in tools for decision-making in analytical characterization.

The Nano-Risk Governance Portal will launch in October 2019.  Funded by the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program through the caLIBRAte Project, the Nano-Risk Governance Portal will be a state-of-the-art “one stop shop” site to support nano-risk governance.  The Portal will provide:

  • Qualified, trustworthy information on nanomaterials and nano-enabled products, their safety, and different stakeholders’ risk perception;
  • Tools for horizon scanning, identification of nanomaterials, risk assessment, risk management, decision support, and workplace monitoring that have been thoroughly tested and validated by performance testing when possible;
  • Access to case studies and qualified material, hazard, and exposure measurement data for direct access information and especially to support nano-risk governance tools; and
  • Guidance and good practice information relevant for research and development, as well as established industrial production of nanomaterials and products containing them.

Registered users will be able to use the Portal to find data and use tools to assess and monitor the risks of specific nanomaterials or nano-containing products to the environment, work environment, and consumers.  The Portal is targeted to members of occupational health and safety organizations in institutions and companies that develop, produce, or use nanomaterials and advisors who support this process.

On August 26, 2019, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) announced that the results of an NIEHS-funded study show that graphene could provide alternatives to chemicals in insect repellant and protective clothing.  The study, “Mosquito Bite Prevention through Graphene Barrier Layers,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  According to the abstract, the researchers hypothesized that graphene films may provide mosquito bite protection for light, fiber-based fabrics.  The researchers investigated the fundamental interactions between graphene-based films and the mosquito species Aedes aegypti through a combination of live mosquito experiments, needle penetration force measurements, and mathematical modeling of mechanical puncture phenomena.  The abstract states that “[t]he results show that graphene or graphene oxide nanosheet films in the dry state are highly effective at suppressing mosquito biting behavior on live human skin.  Surprisingly, behavioral assays indicate that the primary mechanism is not mechanical puncture resistance, but rather interference with host chemosensing.”  The researchers propose that the interference is “a molecular barrier effect that prevents Aedes from detecting skin-associated molecular attractants trapped beneath the graphene films and thus prevents the initiation of biting behavior.”  According to the abstract, placing water or human sweat on the external film surface circumvents the molecular barrier effect.  In this scenario, the abstract states, “pristine graphene films continue to protect through puncture resistance — a mechanical barrier effect — while graphene oxide films absorb the water and convert to mechanically soft hydrogels that become nonprotective.”

On August 20, 2019, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) posted a one-pager on the Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC).  NTRC conducts research to understand the potential effects on human health of exposure to engineered nanomaterials and develops methods to control or eliminate exposures.  NTRC focuses on the following areas “to help industry move safely and responsibly into the future”:

  • Increasing understanding of potential health risks to workers making and using nanomaterials;
  • Preventing occupational exposures to nanomaterials; and
  • Evaluating potential worker health risks from advanced material and manufacturing processes.

NTRC’s accomplishments include completing peer and stakeholder review of the revised draft Current Intelligence Bulletin:  Health Effects from Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials.  As reported in our January 25 2019, blog item, NIOSH published a document entitled Continuing to Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce:  NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Plan for 2018-2025.  NTRC’s future activities include:

  • Publishing the final Current Intelligence Bulletin: Health Effects from Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials;
  • Evaluating biomarkers of exposure and disease using proteomic, metabolomics, and bioinformatics approaches;
  • Working with industry to develop practical, “real world” evaluation of hazard and risk represented by nanomaterials through their life cycles; and
  • Participating in development of international standards with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 229, such as:
    • Round robin testing in support of the OECD Test Guideline 110 — Particle Size Distribution/Fiber Length and Diameter Distributions;
    • Identification and quantification of airborne nano-objects in a mixed dust industrial environment;
    • Evaluation of methods for assessing the release of nanomaterials from commercial, nanomaterial-containing polymer composites; and
    • Lung burden measurement of nanomaterials for inhalation toxicity studies.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Expo:  Chemistry and Water will be held August 25-29, 2019, in San Diego, California.  On August 25, 2019, “Tiny Solutions to Big Problems:  Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology” will be held in support of the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology Signature Initiative (Water NSI).  The session will feature an overview of the Water NSI, as well as technical presentations on three specific areas where nanotechnology is being applied:  water treatment, water delivery and use, and water monitoring.  Presentations will be followed by a panel discussion on current challenges and future directions for the nanotechnology community in addressing global water issues.