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RFF Scholar Considers EPA Oversight for Nanotechnology

May 23, 2007

WASHINGTON D.C.- A new report by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, EPA and Nanotechnology: Oversight for the 21st Century, examines the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) role in nanotechnology oversight. According to EPA, nanotechnology has evolved from a futuristic idea to a current issue that needs to be addressed.

In the report, Davies considers various oversight tools for dealing with nanotechnology and proposes a number of action steps for government, industry, and other stakeholders.

According to Davies, the nanotechnology revolution provides an opportunity to institute new kinds of regulation and to create an oversight system for nanotechnology that will be more effective but less intrusive than existing forms of regulation. This approach will require fewer resources from both the public and private sectors. Nanotechnology can also be a catalyst for the revitalization of EPA.

Davies' report spells out more than 25 steps that should be taken to improve the oversight of nanotechnology. Among the recommendations made are the following:

 

Link to Report

  • EPA should launch its proposed voluntary program to collect nanotechnology risk information and should begin immediately to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act to better deal with nanotechnology.
  • EPA and industry should create a joint research institute to conduct scientific research on nanotechnology effects.
  • EPA should set up and lead an interagency regulatory coordinating group for nanotechnology oversight.
  • Congress should establish a temporary committee in each house to consider options for a nanotechnology oversight mechanism.
  • Congress should provide an additional $50 million each year for research on the health and environmental effects of nanotechnology products and processes.
  • Congress should remove constraints that limit EPA's ability to require that companies collect and share necessary data and other information the agency needs to oversee nanotechnology.

Davies is a senior fellow at RFF and senior advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. Davies also wrote the report, Managing the Effects of Nanotechnology, released in January 2006 by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. More information, including the report, can be found at http://www.nanotechproject.org/124.


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Resources for the Future, an independent and nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think-tank, seeks to improve environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide through objective social science research of the highest caliber.

 

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