The author of this report, J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, has thought through and analyzed many of the nanotechnology regulatory issues and challenges facing the EPA, as well as other parties such as the Congress. In a prior report, Dr. Davies argued that better and more aggressive oversight and new resources are needed to manage the potential adverse effects of nanotechnology and to promote its continued development (Davies 2006). In this report, he points out weaknesses within the system, and offers solutions. Following a comprehensive review of EPA’s experience regulating nano-based substances and products, Dr. Davies evaluates various environmental management and policy tools and proposes a number of innovative regulatory and non-regulatory approaches.
The intention of this report is to stimulate a broad dialogue about a next-generation oversight system that will work with nanotechnologies and the technologies that follow. The report contains a number of action items for government, industry, and other stakeholders in both the near and long term. Finally, it challenges EPA to rethink its role, resources, and capabilities and provides a starting point for a discussion about environmental protection in the 21st century.
This paper focuses on the need for an oversight system for nanotechnology that will identify any potential adverse health or environmental effects of the technology and prevent them from occurring. It analyzes the steps that must be taken to create such a system, particularly emphasizing the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This paper identifies many of the actions that should be taken. It focuses in particular on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will be a key agency in any oversight effort because of its numerous regulatory authorities and its mission to protect the environment and human health.
The report concludes with an action agenda that contains more than 25 actions that need to be taken to improve the oversight of nanotechnologies. This report provides an agenda for creating that system and for ensuring that society is prepared as nanotechnology advances.
About the Author
I. Setting an Agenda
Definition of Nanotechnology
Nano Promise and Red Flags
Setting an Agenda
II. The Current Situation
Science and Regulation
EPA Product Programs and Media Programs
Legal Authority of EPA Programs to Cover Nano
Adequacy of EPA Programs to Deal with Nano
Resources to Deal with Nano
Political Will to Address Nano Effects
EPA Experience Regulating Nano
III. Tools for Dealing with Nano
Adjusting Existing Programs
Voluntary Efforts: Industry Initiated
Voluntary Efforts: Government Initiated
State and Local Governments
Dialogue Is Necessary
IV. EPA in the 21st Century
EPA as a Science Agency
The Need for Integration
Getting Good People
The International Context
Evaluating Programs, Measuring Progress
V. Next Steps
One to Two Years
Two to Five Years
Beyond Five Years