31 July 2008 22:28 [Source: ICIS news]
Under its nanoscale materials stewardship programme (NMSP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late January invited industry to submit any and all information on manufacture and use of nanomaterials.
"EPA is pleased with the commitments received to date in response to the NMSP," an agency spokesman said.
EPA is interested in anything related to nanomaterials production, including how manufacturers handle the materials and what precautions they take to protect production or research employees and consumers who use products containing nanomaterials.
The agency said it needs the information in order to build a base of knowledge toward what eventually will be a regulatory programme to ensure that nanomaterials do not pose a risk to human health and the environment.
The deadline was Monday, 28 July, for submitting nanomaterials information for the first phase of the agency’s evaluation process.
According to EPA, 13
On the day of the deadline, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) charged that the agency’s voluntary programme was demonstrably inadequate, noting that in January EPA said it expected to receive 240 submissions from as many as 180 companies.
However, EPA indicated on Thursday that the level of voluntary submissions is adequate for its evaluation process.
“EPA will carefully evaluate the information submitted under the NMSP to determine if any additional approaches, including the possibility of regulatory actions under TSCA [the Toxic Substances Control Act] are necessary to ensure that the agency has access to needed information,” the EPA said. TSCA is the principal
“EPA intends to move quickly to complete this evaluation and determine next steps, as appropriate,” the agency said.
John DiLoreto, a chemical industry nanomaterials specialist, said the number of companies participating thus far in the voluntary evaluation programme and the data they have submitted may be sufficient to meet the agency’s near-term goals.
DiLoreto, who directs the small and medium business nanotech coalition at the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), said that “I think the number of companies participating is pretty good”.
He said it is not for non-governmental groups such as EDF to decide whether the programme is successful.
“What is important is that EPA get its arms around this issue, and the information they have received in these submissions may be sufficient to establish where we need data, what data needs to be developed and what regulatory course is needed,” DiLoreto said.
He also suggested that the number of US companies actually producing and using nanoscale materials may be considerably smaller than generally believed.
“Some companies use the term ‘nano’ to describe and market their products, but they’re not actually producing nanomaterials,” he said. “The actual number of companies producing or using nanomaterials is probably smaller than everyone suspects.”
The EPA did not say when it expects a decision on how it will proceed further in evaluating the potential need for nanomaterials regulations.
Researchers and chemical industry leaders have said they are reluctant to make major investments in time, effort or capital until they are certain what areas of nanomaterials development and production will be barred or restricted by one or another federal authority.
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
|ICIS news FREE TRIAL|
|Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index|
Asian Chemical Connections