Meanwhile, in December, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) established a Committee on Safety Management for Nanomaterials.
In a press release, METI states that the committee will focus on risks caused by nanomaterials, and that it will study "appropriate management procedures for nanomaterials considering the actual usage and life cycles." The committee's major agenda is to classify the shapes and risks of nanomaterials in order to study appropriate management procedures for each. It plans to compile an interim report in the spring or summer of this year.
Also in December, the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution that called for legislation to be drafted to protect workers from the health risks of nanomaterials in the workplace. The EP's concern is that the potential effects of new technologies and harmful susbtances on health and their risks must be assessed.
The resolution stated that nanomaterials must be covered by current European Union (EU) health and safety rules, and that legislation must be drafted to ensure that nanomaterials are covered by those European Occupational Health and Safety regulations.
The Inspector General's report points to the lack of good information about the health effects of nanomaterials. Some recentstudies have found possible heath risks associated with carbon nanotubes. This is an area which needs further study. We are only just beginning to learn how materials behave on this scale, never mind how they interact with complex biological organisms such as ourselves.
Nice article, Ann. As with a lot of environmental legislation, the EPA may wait to see what Japan and Europe do before offering any significant regulation. Even then they may hang back. We still don't have a a U.S. RoHS. We don't really need one, since the electronics industry complied to Europe's regulation.
I would imagine that potential legislation governing nanoscale materials has to be a good thing in terms of promoting a healthy and safe environment not only for workers using the new materials, but also end users of products that leverage the new technologies. That said, one can only imagine that legislation might curtail usage and further evolution of these important technologies. Is that the case, Ann? How widespread is nanomaterials so far?
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