Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EPA and CPSC: "Nano nano"

The total annual quantity of nanomaterials on the global market is just over 12 million US tons, with a market value of about $20.29 billion US dollars (as of October 2012).  As such, some standards and health assessments are in order for this burgeoning business.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are collaborating to assess any potential impacts of nanomaterials on people’s health and the environment. One such ongoing study evaluates potential human and environmental effects from exposure to copper nanomaterials, an ingredient in wood treatment products used on wood for building decks and fences.

Nanomaterials appear in many household products ranging from clothing to building materials to cosmetics.

Nanomaterials are made up of very small particles-- which are about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Nanotechnology and nanomaterials used in the development of these products improve our everyday lives, but it is important that we understand how humans are exposed to nanomaterials and to assess the risks they may pose to people’s health and the environment, according to Dr. Tina Bahadori, national program director for EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability Research.

Nano Europe  Announced October 3, 2012, the European Commission (EC) is initiating a regulatory review for nanomaterials. Focus is on a systematic analysis of all relevant EU nano legislation to determine three key points:
  1. Whether current EU legislation is appropriate to ensure the safe use of nanomaterials
  2. Whether and what regulatory gaps exsist and should be filled
  3. How this can be done without jeopardizing their contribution to innovation, growth and job creation for the European economy
Nano stateside  EPA's collaborative research with CSPC is part of a larger international effort that focuses on:
• Identifying, characterizing and quantifying the origins of nanomaterials
• Studying biological processes affected by nanomaterials that could influence risk
• Determining how nanomaterials interact with complex systems in the human body and the environment
• Involving industry to develop sustainable manufacturing processes
• Sharing knowledge through innovative online applications that allow for rapid feedback and accelerated research progress

CPSC, in working with other federal agencies, ensures that common public health concerns are met and will use research findings to inform:
• Protocol development to assess the potential release of nanomaterials from consumer products
• Credible rules for consumer product testing to evaluate exposure
• Determination of the potential public health impacts of nanomaterial used in consumer products

Nano print (fine print)  This research is a part of the U.S. government’s efforts to assess the potential risks of nanomaterials. These efforts are coordinated by the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). NNI is a collaborative project comprised of 25 agencies, including EPA and CPSC.

More information on how nanomaterials are handled by REACH and CLP:
More information about EPA’s nanomaterials research: http://www.epa.gov/nanoscience/
More information about CPSC’s nanomaterials research:   http://www.nano.gov/node/139
More information about the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative:  http://www.nano.gov/