Monday, January 28, 2008

EPA Launches Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program

Jan 28: U.S. EPA announced its Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) and said it wants answers to "What are the human health and environmental risks and benefits of nanoscale chemical products?" Jim Gulliford, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances said, “This program will help strengthen the scientific understanding of nanoscale materials and allow the EPA to more quickly assemble the information needed to ensure appropriate oversight of the products of this promising technology. Participation in this program can help assure the responsible development, use, and acceptance of these materials in the marketplace.”

According to EPA the program calls on manufacturers, importers, processors, and users of engineered nanoscale materials to voluntarily report to EPA key information about these materials within six months. EPA is not requesting that participants develop additional data, only that participants submit existing data.

The Agency will evaluate the information to help ensure the safe manufacture and use of these nanoscale materials. EPA said it will also work with manufacturers, importers, processors and users of nanoscale materials to develop test data to provide a scientific basis for assessing the hazards, exposures, and risks of nanoscale materials. The NMSP is designed to complement and support EPA's new and existing chemical programs under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) [
See WIMS 8/2/07 & 10/19/06].

The NMSP includes, but is not limited to, existing chemical nanoscale materials manufactured or imported for commercial purposes as defined by TSCA. EPA encourages manufacturers and importers of new chemical nanoscale materials, which are subject to TSCA reporting requirements prior to manufacture, as well as researchers to consider reporting under the NMSP. EPA said the NMSP will help provide a firmer, scientific foundation for regulatory decisions by encouraging the development of key scientific information and use of risk management practices in developing and commercializing nanoscale materials.

EPA said to would publish an interim report on the program in approximately a year from its launching on January 28, 2008. A more detailed report and program evaluation will be published after approximately two years. At the time of the two-year report, EPA intends to determine the future direction of both the basic reporting and in-depth data development phases, although adjustments or decisions on future steps may be made at an earlier point if sufficient experience is gained. This would also include consideration of use of regulatory authorities under TSCA.

Environmental Defense a persistent watchdog, participant and critic of EPA's approach thus far issued a release saying, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) long-awaited voluntary reporting program for engineered nanomaterials will not deliver critically needed information and serves only to postpone key decisions on how best to mitigate nanotechnology’s potential risks to human health and the environment, according to Environmental Defense. The group harshly criticized the EPA’s new Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program... Richard Denison, Ph.D., Environmental Defense Senior Scientist said, “EPA is simply ‘kicking the can down the road’ by shunning approaches that could have delivered needed information faster, and by opting instead to pursue an open-ended approach with no end in sight."

In a related matter, EPA announced that it has awarded 21 grants totaling $7.34 million to universities to investigate potential adverse health and environmental effects of manufactured nanomaterials. The grants were awarded through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants program in partnership with the National Science Foundation's (NSF), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) who awarded another eight grants for a total of 29. Nine of the grants focus on potential toxicity, and 12 grants study the fate and transport of nanomaterials in the environment.

Access a release from EPA announcing the NMSP (
click here). Access EPA's Federal Register announcement [73 FR 4861-4866] (click here). Access further details on the NMSP (click here). Access more information on Nanotechnology under the Toxic Substances Control Act (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access a release on the nanomaterials grants listing the recipients (click here). Access WIMS-EcoBizPort Nanotechnology links for additional information (click here). [*Toxics]