Industry and government must commit more resources to nanotech risk research

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nanotechnology

Research spending on nanotechnology risks is woefully inadequate and industry participation in data gathering projects has been limited, according to the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

Spokesperson Colin Finan told that 99 percent of nanomaterials are probably perfectly safe but a tiny percentage of unsafe material has the potential to cause lot of damage.

High potential costs of insufficient research

Without adequate research into health and environmental risks, it is impossible to be 100 percent confident about these new materials and Finan said that fact alone is costing companies money in insurance.

Talking specifically about cosmetics, Finan said research indicates that the nano form of titanium dioxide, which is now commonly used in sunscreens, may well be an improvement on the traditional form, but that does not take away the need for more research.

He said research spending on the risks of nanotechnology accounted for less than 3 percent of the $1.4bn federal nanotechnology research budget in 2006. The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is calling for that figure to be increased to 10 percent.

Voluntary program receives limited number of submissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued an interim report on its Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, which is a voluntary information submission program.

Finan said the response from industry was very limited. In the in-depth section of the report, he said only 4 submissions were made from industry despite countless requests sent out to companies.

Between 30 and 40 submissions were made to the basic section but Finan said for the most part the information they contained was already widely available.

Responding to the lack of data gathered for the report, the EPA is now changing tactics and will soon be demanding that all companies producing carbon nanotubes submit data.

Finan said: “The approach under the Bush administration had been to leave markets to take care of themselves. We are now waking up to the realization that this was the wrong attitude.”

Related topics Market Trends

Related news

Show more