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Federal toxics disclosure law could help inform public of nanotechnology risks
Date:2/26/2008

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) is releasing a first-time legal analysis that finds a key federal toxics reporting statute could be applied to production and commercialization of nanotechnology, providing the public with more information about these revolutionary -- yet still potentially risky -- technologies.

But before the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) authorities can be applied to nanomaterials, in most cases more toxicological data must be developed to better understand the potential human health and environmental impacts of these cutting-edge technologies. The analysis, conducted by two noted environmental law experts, finds that federal authorities may need to be amended to address reporting thresholds that may not apply effectively to nanomaterials because of their unique characteristics.

"There needs to be development of additional toxicological data on nanomaterials, but in theory TRI could be applied to nanomaterials. The key question is whether EPA will make any determinations about whether particular nanomaterials constitute toxic chemicals," says Linda Breggin, one the authors of the analysis and Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute.

The landmark analysis comes as over 40 environmental, consumer, labor and other groups are calling for regulation and disclosure of products containing nanomaterials, and as congressional lawmakers are considering legislation to expand reporting requirements for environmental pollutants under TRI. Although currently proposed legislation does not specifically address nanomaterials, a public dialogue about the benefits and costs of TRI is underway that could include discussion of the program's application to nanomaterials, the new PEN analysis says.

At the local level the City of Berkeley, Calif., adopted in 2006 a disclosure ordinance that requires nanomaterial manufacturers to disclose the known risks of their products. Now Cambridge, Mass., is consid
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Contact: Colin Finan
colin.finan@wilsoncenter.org
202-691-4321
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Source:Eurekalert

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