Nov
27
2006

Finally a little government attention to nanotech regulation

Robin Low: What will he think about new regulations?  Robin Low makes textiles using nanotechnology.  Ask him what he thinks about these new regulations.
Robin Low: What will he think about new regulations? Robin Low makes textiles using nanotechnology. Ask him what he thinks about these new regulations.

Nanotechnology research is kicking into full gear the world over but almost everyone agrees that we simply don't know how to properly regulate its use. What will particles billions of times smaller than a meter do to our bodies and the environment? Well...they might cure our cancers and clean up our water. But they also might penetrate our blood brain barriers and stick in our gray matter or cause ecosystems to decline due to tiny tiny pollutants.

EPA takes a step in the right direction

Well, at least our government is beginning to look at this stuff. The EPA announced on Thursday that they will be regulating all use of nano-silver in US commercial products. If you make odor eating socks with nano-silver you now have to make sure that it won't get out into the environment and cause harm.

The city of Berkeley, California is also looking at creating the first local government nanotech regulations. This isn't surprising for two reasons.

  1. Berkeley has long history of being environmentally conscious and has a very active political community, often leading detractors and jokesters to dub this enclave The Socialist Republik of Berkeley
  2. They actually play host to a great deal of research into nanotechnology at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They have a vested interest in protecting their communities from the potential harmful effects of nanotech research.

I will be watching this closely and hope that the concerned community members and the scientists can come to some middle ground where research isn't totally crippled by massive regulation but where unknown safety risks are considered.

Fun times in the nanoworld.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Samantha Dozier, Ph.D.'s picture
Samantha Dozier, Ph.D. says:

EPA has reversed its original decision to avoid regulating nano silver and
now accepts that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and
the Clean Water Act allow for its jurisdiction over these and other
nanoparticles. In so doing, EPA has taken the first of many steps needed to ensure that nanomaterials do not harm humans or the environment.

However, if the EPA clings to antiquated animal experiments to test the safety of nanomaterials it will create a disaster even larger than the ongoing and decades-long asbestos debacle – a crisis caused by reliance upon crude animal experiments which did not show cancer in the species tested. Tens of millions of dollars and countless human lives have been lost as a result of this faulty animal experiment testing data. High-throughput, human-relevant, non-animal methods must be the basis of nanotoxicity studies for this growing field

Samantha Dozier, Ph.D.
Nanotechnology Policy Advisor
Regulatory Testing Division
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

posted on Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:46pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wired magazine has some great info about nanotech.

posted on Thu, 01/11/2007 - 5:39pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Here's a new article on regulating nanosilver. Because y'all wanted it so bad.

posted on Mon, 09/15/2008 - 1:05pm

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