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April 13, 2016

OSTP Blog Item Notes Recent Reports Highlighting Continued Federal Commitment To NanoEHS

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) posted on April 11, 2016, a blog item, authored by Lloyd Whitman, OSTP, and Dr. Treye Thomas, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), entitled “Supporting Responsible Development of Nanotechnology.”  The item states that the following reports released in March 2016 highlight federal investments and activities in the area of nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (nanoEHS) research, progress, and needs in understanding exposure from consumer products, and how businesses can protect their nanotechnology workforce:

  • The recently released NNI Supplement to the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which serves as the annual report for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), highlights the programs and coordinated activities taking place across the departments, independent agencies, and commissions participating in the NNI. As detailed in this report, nanoEHS activities continue to account for about ten percent of the annual NNI budget, with cumulative federal research and development investments in this area exceeding $1 billion over the past decade.
  • Last month NNI released a report, Quantifying Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials (QEEN) from Manufactured Products: Addressing Environmental, Health, and Safety Implications, summarizing a workshop sponsored by CPSC. The main goals of the workshop were to assess progress in developing tools and methods for quantifying exposure to engineered nanomaterials across the product life cycle, and to identify new research needed to advance exposure assessment for nanotechnology-enabled products.
  • The technical experts who participated in CPSC’s workshop recommended that future work focus on determining biomarkers of exposure linked to disease, which will require substantive public-private collaboration, partnership, and knowledge sharing. Recognizing these needs, the President’s 2017 Budget request for CPSC includes funds for a new nanotechnology center led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to develop test methods and to quantify and characterize the presence, release, and mechanisms of consumer exposure to nanomaterials in consumer products.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued a series of documents providing guidance intended to protect workers who manufacture nanotechnology products, including the recently released publication Building a Safety Program to Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce: A Guide for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises. This guide provides business owners with the tools necessary to develop and implement a written health and safety program to protect their employees.

The blog item also notes that an upcoming workshop will explore the work of joint U.S.-European Union (EU) nanoEHS communities of research in developing a shared repertoire of protocols and methods.  The 2016 joint workshop will be held on June 6-7, 2016, in Arlington, VA, and is free and open to the public.  Registration opened on April 6, 2016, on a first-come, first-served basis.