Regulatory oversight of nanotechnology is "urgently needed" and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should act now, researchers warned today.
J. Clarence Davies, former EPA assistant administrator for policy, planning and evaluation, has called for "a new EPA" that can deal with the potentially serious environmental issues raised by nanotechnology.
New nano-materials and nanotechnology products are entering the market every week, he said, and an adequate oversight system is necessary to identify and minimise any adverse effects on health or the environment.
"This new report seeks to encourage the EPA, Congress and others to create an intelligent oversight approach that empowers the EPA and promotes investment and innovation in new nanotechnology products and processes," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
William D. Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator from 1970 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1985, stated: "For over 30 years, the EPA has dealt with the impact of the last industrial revolution: the internal combustion engine, steam-generated electricity and basic chemical synthesis.
"Today, another industrial revolution is occurring driven by nanotechnology and its convergence with IT and biotechnology."
Ruckelshaus added that nanotechnology holds tremendous potential, but is not without risks.
"With its ability to fundamentally change the properties of matter, nanotechnology may pose both the greatest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the EPA in its history."
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