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August 20, 2007
Volume 85, Number 34
p. 10

Science Policy

Nanotech Survey

OECD countries are examining nanomaterials

Glenn Hess

A NEW REPORT by the 30-member-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development catalogs the growing number of initiatives under way in industrialized countries to address the health and environmental safety implications of manufactured nanomaterials.

Courtesy of Delina Lyon/Rice University
Risks of nanomaterials are still largely unknown. Shown is Delina Lyon, a Rice University researcher who studies the impact of buckyball aggregates on ecosystems.

The 77-page document summarizes information on current developments provided by delegations that participated in the second meeting of OECD's Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials, held this past April in Berlin.

The report indicates that few regulatory decisions on nanomaterials have been made by governments around the world, as the impacts of nanotechnology remain largely unknown. But many countries are devoting more resources toward discovering what those impacts might be.

China, for example, told OECD that it has more than 30 research organizations studying the toxicological and environmental effects of nanomaterials and techniques for recovering nanoparticles from manufacturing processes.

"A lot of countries are placing a high premium on understanding and managing the potential risks of engineered nanomaterials at an early stage in the development of these technologies," says Andrew D. Maynard, chief science adviser for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Several countries, including Belgium and Ireland, say they do not currently have any specific national regulations in place, partly because there are no globally accepted definitions of nanomaterials. Maynard says a technical committee of the International Standards Organization, in Geneva, has been working on the problem.

France has no regulations to date, either, but the French Agency for Labor & Environmental Health Safety is working to ensure that nanoscale materials are included under the European Union's Registration, Evaluation & Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) program.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society

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