EPA Requests Nano Data, Invests $7.34M in Research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Jan. 28 that it has awarded 21 grants totaling $7.34 million to universities to investigate potential adverse health and environmental effects of manufactured nanomaterials. On that same date, the agency launched its Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program to encourage companies to provide risk information.

The grants were awarded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results research grants program in partnership with the National Science Foundation's, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which awarded another eight grants for a total of 29. Nine of the grants focus on potential toxicity, and 12 grants study the fate and transport of nanomaterials in the environment.

"Nanotechnology is an exciting new field with the potential to transform environmental protection. But it is critical to know whether nanomaterials could negatively impact health or the environment," said George Gray, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. "By performing research on potential adverse affects, EPA is doing what is right for both human and environmental health and technological progress.”

The agency's Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will gather and develop key information from manufacturers, importers, processors and users of engineered chemical nanoscale materials.

“This program will help strengthen the scientific understanding of nanoscale materials and allow EPA to more quickly assemble the information needed to ensure appropriate oversight of the products of this promising technology," said Jim Gulliford, the agency's assistant administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

The program has set a deadline for stakeholders to provide information within six months. The agency will evaluate the information to help ensure the safe manufacture and use of these nanoscale materials. EPA also will work with manufacturers, importers, processors and users of nanoscale materials to develop test data to provide a scientific basis for assessing the hazards, exposures, and risks of nanoscale materials. The program will complement and support EPA's new and existing chemical programs under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The program includes, but is not limited to, existing chemical nanoscale materials manufactured or imported for commercial purposes as defined by TSCA. EPA encourages manufacturers and importers of new chemical nanoscale materials, which are subject to TSCA reporting requirements prior to manufacture, as well as researchers to consider reporting under the program. The program will help provide a firmer, scientific foundation for regulatory decisions by encouraging the development of key scientific information and use of risk management practices in developing and commercializing nanoscale materials.

For information on the program, visit http://epa.gov/oppt/nano/stewardship.htm.
For information on nanotechnology under the Toxic Substances Control Act, go to http://epa.gov/oppt/nano.

EPA further works with agencies in other countries on nanotechnology health and safety research. The agency is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development effort to promote international cooperation in health and environmental safety related aspects of manufactured nanomaterials.