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EPA takes first step in filling nanotech information gaps
Date:1/28/2008

WASHINGTON, DCThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published today in the Federal Register its plan for the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The plan takes a positive first step by offering industry, non-governmental organizations and other groups the opportunity to voluntarily submit safety data on engineered nanoscale materials.

According to Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) Director David Rejeski, The information obtained under the stewardship program could help government officials develop a better understanding of the risks and benefits posed by the novel materials, but this voluntary program provides virtually no incentives for industry participation. Swift action is needed now to ensure public and market confidence in the safety of these materials. EPA officials first announced in June 2005 the agencys intention to launch the stewardship program, and at this point almost three years later the need for action is that much greater.

According to former EPA official and PEN senior advisor J. Clarence Davies, Starting the stewardship program is a positive step toward filling in some of the information gaps facing the agency. But there should be an interplay between modifying TSCA, such as promulgating a significant new use rule for nanomaterials, and the voluntary program. A sequential approach will leave nanomaterials unregulated for far too long, and will also be less productive than if the two efforts proceed in tandem.

In its announcement of the voluntary program, EPA also notes that it will not change its policy on what constitutes a new chemical under TSCA. That policy, put forward last year, says the agency will not consider size when deciding when a chemical is a new chemical under TSCA even though size is a determining factor in what constitutes a nanomaterial. If a substance is determined to be new under TSCA, it can result in extensive first-time
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Contact: Colin Finan
colin.finan@wilsoncenter.org
202-691-4321
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Source:Eurekalert

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