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June 14, 2024

NNI EHS Research Strategy: 2024 Update Available for Public Comment

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), on behalf of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), requested comments on June 13, 2024, on the “National Nanotechnology Initiative Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy: 2024 Update” (2024 Update). 89 Fed. Reg. 50390. NNCO states that federal agencies participating in NSET’s Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) Working Group developed the draft 2024 Update and seek comments by the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research community and the public “as a final stage of public input that will inform the final strategy.” Comments are due July 22, 2024.

According to the 2024 Update, realizing the potential of engineered nanomaterials and nanotechnology-enabled products to solve global challenges while protecting human and environmental health necessitates addressing unmet and new needs in nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (nanoEHS) through coordinated, collaborative action. The 2024 Update states that key areas of action could include:

  • Addressing remaining EHS knowledge gaps for engineered nanomaterials in commerce;
  • Monitoring and evaluating emerging nanotechnology applications;
  • Investigating emerging nanoscale contaminants of concern;
  • Strengthening the collaborative informatics infrastructure;
  • Engaging the international nanosafety community; and
  • Expanding public engagement in the responsible development of nanotechnology

A comprehensive, integrated approach will enable responsible nanotechnology innovation to flourish, benefiting human health, the environment, the economy, and society. The 2024 Update should foster collaborations, capabilities, and discoveries that address ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) and safety uncertainties and catalyze the field’s next decades of achievement.

According to the Federal Register notice, the 2024 Update “represents the U.S. Government’s commitment to steer future research advancements in nanotechnology, aligning with the needs of the economy and society.” Part A of the 2024 Update outlines progress toward the 2011 EHS research strategy goals, and Part B addresses the scope of the research strategy going forward, expands on the unmet needs from Part A, and adds specific actions to support the new needs and challenges identified in the 2024 Update. The notice is a follow-on to the April 5, 2023, request for information published by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). OSTP is interested in identifying any additional information and data sources that NEHI should consider when updating the strategy. More information on the RFI is available in our April 6, 2023, blog item.