Nanotechnology Regulation: Still a Public-Private Hybrid

NanoparticlesAs EPA begins to regulate nanomaterials more aggressively, but as concerns remain regarding EPA regulatory efforts, private efforts to regulate nanomaterials continue. ASTM recently announced that it is forming a new subcommittee on Nano-Enabled Consumer Products. The focus of the subcommittee will be on uses of nanomaterials containing silver. In particular, ASTM noted that it would be considering the following possibilities:

Standards for measurement of silver in textiles and liquids (including atomic spectroscopy to  assess mass)

Standards for evaluating the form of silver in textiles and liquids (including: electron microscopy to evaluate size, shape and chemical composition; ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry to evaluate size using surface plasmon resonance absorbance)

Standards for assessment of nanosilver exposure potential from use of textile and liquid consumer products (including: release from consumer products in biological fluids [skin surface, lung, gastrointestinal tract]; release from consumer products in environmental matrices [air, water, soil] throughout a product lifecycle).

There is little doubt that nanomaterials are a brave new world – one which indeed scares some people, notwithstanding nanotechnology’s promise. We are also entering into a brave new world of nanotechnology regulation – one which scares me a bit, notwithstanding my recognition that some careful regulation of nanomaterials may be appropriate.

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