We are pleased to announce the release of the final white paper from the October 8-9, 2009, summit entitled “Environmentally Responsible Development of Nanotechnology,” which was held by The Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative. The charge for summit attendees was to explore issues regarding potential risk across nano-enabled product lifecycles, with the goal of generating a set of recommendations for North Carolina businesses regarding how to address such risks. The White Paper, to which Lynn L. Bergeson contributed, summarizes near-term recommendations resulting from the summit, as well as questions that should be considered in the interim to arrive at more solid long-term recommendations.
The collective concerns of the summit participants focused on the simultaneous yet interdependent development of the industry, the need for data concerning the potential environmental and human health risks of engineered nanomaterials, and the application of existing and future regulation to protect human health and the environment. During the summit, three working groups worked in parallel, each focusing on a particular phase of the nanomaterial lifecycle to identify business needs and knowledge gaps as to each lifecycle phase. Each of the three groups — Nanomaterials Fabrication, Nanomaterials Integration into Products, and Nanomaterials Disposal and End of Life (EOL) Issues — generated detailed recommendations tailored to that particular lifecycle phase. Consensus developed that, across the lifecycle, some meta-level needs must be addressed to enable the more detailed recommendations to be carried out. The White Paper presents these overarching recommendations, called preliminary recommendations, which assist nanotech businesses in developing and commercializing products of nanotechnology in environmentally responsible ways. In addition, regulatory bodies, research communities, and supporting services may also find the recommendations to be helpful.
The recommendations focus around organizing a nanotech community to facilitate the iterative identification, development, and dissemination of nanotech safety and risk information among interested parties. Unlike most other nanomaterial safety and environmental risk meetings, which have resulted in a wish list of data that must be completed and questions that must be answered before conclusions can be drawn, the summit generated specific calls for action from targeted groups, focusing on informing current strategies for mitigating risks that can only be fully understood in the future.