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January 5, 2011

EPA, EC, and OECD Officials Publish Article in Nature Nanotechnology

Lynn L. Bergeson

Nature Nanotechnology has posted a pre-publication version of an article entitled “Science Policy Considerations for Responsible Nanotechnology Decisions,” which is authored by regulatory officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), European Commission (EC), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The authors offer their perspectives on possible approaches to maximizing the environmental benefits of nanotechnology and products that contain nanomaterials while minimizing the negative impacts. For the path forward, the regulators recommend that researchers and risk managers work together to develop approaches to limit exposure and identify and address those properties of specific nanomaterial types that appear to be the source of potential hazards or exposures. According to the regulators, industry “should contribute significantly to this work because it best understands the characteristics and performance of the materials it produces, as well as what types of controls (such as personal protective equipment for workers) will function best in particular occupational situations.” In recognition of the possibility to avoid risk before nanomaterials enter the environment, the regulators “support the application of a life cycle perspective and encourage the development of safer-by-design methods and approaches such as green chemistry for sustainable production of chemicals in ways that reduce environmental impact.”