Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Voluntary Reporting Schemes and Nanotechnology

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its interim report on the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, a voluntary reporting scheme that was launched in January of last year. According to the report, twenty-nine companies or associations submitted information to the EPA on 123 nanoscale materials by December 8, 2008. In the In-depth Program, only four companies agreed to work with the EPA and others on a plan for the development of data on representative nanoscale materials over a longer time frame. In the report, the EPA considers the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program a success, but recognizes that gaps in environmental health and safety information still exist that the Agency had hoped to fill through the program. The agency is considering how to best use testing and information gathering authorities granted under the Toxic Substances Control Act to help address these gaps.

The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA also ran a pilot voluntary reporting scheme from September of 2006 to September of 2008. According to the Seventh Quarterly Report of the program, they received eleven submissions to the program, nine from industry and two from academia during this period. DEFRA has yet to release a final review of the success of this program.

For reactions to the interim report, see the Environmental Defense Fund’s recent blog entry, "Nano Confessions: EPA all but concedes mandatory reporting and testing are needed." In 2005, the EDF and other stakeholders recommended that the EPA adopt a mandatory reporting scheme during a public meeting held by the EPA on the potential for developing a voluntary pilot program for reporting information about engineered nanoscale materials.

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