In its latest Background Paper, entitled Mounting Evidence That Carbon Nanotubes May Be the New Asbestos, Friends of the Earth Australia (FOEA) is calling “for an immediate moratorium on the commercial use of carbon nanotubes and the sale of products that incorporate nanotubes until research can demonstrate whether or not there is any safe level of exposure to them.”   FOEA also is calling for new nanotechnology-specific regulation to protect human health and the environment, as well as for mandatory labeling of all nanoscale materials used in the workplace and in consumer products.

Continue Reading Friends of the Earth Australia Calls for an Immediate Moratorium on the Use of Carbon Nanotubes

On July 28, 2008, the City Council of Cambridge, Massachusetts voted to accept a set of recommendations for a municipal health and safety policy on nanomaterials. The recommendations were set forth in a report prepared by the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) and the Cambridge Nanomaterials Advisory Committee (CNAC). Cambridge now becomes the second city in the United States — Berkeley, California is the other — to have taken municipal action on nanomaterials.
Continue Reading City of Cambridge Adopts Recommendations for a Municipal Health and Safety Policy on Nanomaterials

On July 17, 2007, Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Chair of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008. The bill would reauthorize the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and amend aspects of the program to prioritize better research and development activities.
Continue Reading Bill to Reauthorize NNI Introduced in Senate

On April 24, 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report entitled Nanotechnology: Accuracy of Data on Federally Funded Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Could Be Improved, which contains the testimony of Robert A. Robinson, Managing Director, Natural Resources and Environment, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation. Robinson provided a summary of GAO’s findings as reported in its March 31, 2008, report entitled Nanotechnology: Better Guidance Is Needed to Ensure Accurate Reporting of Federal Research Focused on Environmental, Health, and Safety Risks. GAO was asked to focus on: (1) the extent to which selected agencies conducted environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research in fiscal year (FY) 2006; (2) the reasonableness of the agencies’ and the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) processes to identify and prioritize EHS research; and (3) the effectiveness of the agencies’ and the NNI’s process to coordinate EHS research.
Continue Reading GAO Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee on the Accuracy of Data Concerning Federally Funded EHS Research

On February 14, 2008, the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technology released a final document entitled Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research, which describes the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) strategy for addressing priority research on the environment, health, and safety (EHS)

According to a January 22, 2008, Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled Engineered Nanoscale Materials and Derivative Products: Regulatory Challenges, questions about the need for, and ideal form of, nanotechnology regulations are “exceedingly difficult” to address, given the current state of scientific understanding. CRS considered challenges faced by scientists, entrepreneurs, and agency officials involved in the

On December 19, 2007, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a report entitled Characterising the Potential Risks Posed by Engineered Nanoparticles: A Second UK Government Research Report, which follows up on DEFRA’s 2005 report and 2006 progress report. The report reviews the status of research pertaining to the environmental, health, and safety

On November 19, 2007, the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus held a briefing on “Nanotechnology and Environment, Health & Safety Issues.” The panel of speakers included Vicki Colvin, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, Rice University; Andrew Maynard, Ph.D., Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for

In a March 15, 2007, letter, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), which was created to accelerate the discovery, development, and deployment of nanoscale science and technology. For fiscal year 2006, NNI received $1.2 billion in research and development funding, and 22 federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), participate in NNI. According to the letter, one key expectation for NNI was “to ensure that adequate attention and research funding was made available to gain a better understanding of the potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks associated with nanomaterials.” The letter states that the Committee and Caucus “are extremely concerned that this has not happened and that there is a lack of transparency with regard to how much federal attention and funding this important aspect of the initiative is receiving.”
Continue Reading Senate Requests GAO Review of NNI