Nanotechnology being studied for potential regulation

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 27, 2009 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Nanotechnology is generally viewed as the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale, dealing with structures of 100 nanometers or smaller in size, and involves developing materials or devices within that size.  There has been much debate on future implications of nanotechnology.  Nanotechnology has the potential to create many new materials and devices with wide-ranging applications, such as in medicine, electronics, and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology has raised many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.

A small group of people representing industry and the environmental community were gathered together last week by Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Ira Ruskin (D-Palo Alto) to pull together an initial legislative draft providing comprehensive nano product regulation.  One of the key discussion points was establishing an accepted definition of "manufactured nanomaterial."

The following topics are being evaluated for possible inclusion in the bill:   

•    Existing worker best practices,
•    Preventing inadvertent release to the public and the environment,
•    Notification (of products containing nanomaterials), and
•    Detection, measuring and characterization.

Feuer indicated that he intends to have at least an initial outline in time for an upcoming conference on nanotechnology at UCLA in mid-April.  He has introduced a spot bill (a placeholder for forthcoming language), AB 935, expecting to have a bill addressing at least portions of the program this year.  

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