Environmental Protection

Petition Seeks Pesticide Classification of Nanoscale Silver

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking comments until Jan. 20 on a petition filed by the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Center for Food Safety, Greenpeace, and others that asks for the sale of nanoscale silver products to be prohibited. They seek its classification as a pesticide, formal pesticide registration of all products containing it, and analysis of the potential human health and environmental risks of nanoscale silver. Comments, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0650 may be submitted via www.regulations.gov. The contact for further information is Nathanael R. Martin of the Field and External Affairs Division, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, phone 703-305-6475, e-mail martin.nathanael@epa.gov.

Other organizations that petitioned for the classification include Friends of the Earth; the Center for Environmental Health; the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition; and Consumers Union. "The petitioners note the rapid increase in the number of products containing manufactured or engineered nanoscale materials," EPA's notice states. "They further point out that scientists have identified that nanoscale materials can have fundamentally different properties from the non-nanoscale or bulk forms of the same compounds, and that these unique properties may pose new environmental and human health risks.

Additionally, the petitioners review EPA's procedural history with respect to nanotechnology and conclude that the agency has not provided adequate regulatory oversight for this emerging technology."

The petitioners want manufacturers to be required to register nanoscale silver products as pesticides pursuant to the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Acts (FIFRA) and immediate statutory and regulatory action taken to prohibit the sale of nanoscale silver products, classifying them as illegal pesticide products with unapproved health benefit claims. "In this regard, the petition claims that the nanoscale silver products currently on the market are in clear violation of FIFRA," according to the notice, which is signed by Debra Edwards, director of the Office of Pesticide Programs.

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