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EPA releases draft nanotechnology white paper

WASHINGTON (12/08/05) -- The U.S. EPA has issued the Draft Nanotechnology White Paper that identifies critical questions that must be addressed in order for the United States to reap the potential environmental and economic benefits of nanotechnology. 

Along with presenting the anticipated benefits of nanotechnology, the paper also deals with risk management of possible negative impacts of the new technologies. EPA will accept public comments on the draft white paper until Jan. 9, 2006, and then provide those comments to external reviewers for their consideration. 

Nanotechnology is the science of creating or modifying materials at the atomic and molecular level to develop new or enhanced materials and products. In December 2004, EPA's Science Policy Council created a cross-agency work group to identify and describe the issues EPA must consider to ensure protection of human health and the environment as this new technology is developed. The draft white paper on nanotechnology is the product of the work group.

The white paper identifies data gaps that need to be filled and the research that EPA will conduct to fully grasp the applications and the implications of nanotech. Those research results will inform the appropriate regulatory safeguards for nanotechnology. The latest nanotechnology and potential environmental benefits of nanotechnology are detailed. Risk management issues and the agency's statutory mandates are outlined, following an extensive discussion of risk assessment issues. The white paper concludes with recommendations on next steps for addressing science policy issues and research needs. 

EPA said it will issue a final white paper on nanotechnology in early 2006. 

More  information is available online.

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