‘EPA to regulate nanotechnology for the first time’, the headlines blared. Though widely-reported EPA regulations won’t focus on nanoparticles, the city of Berkeley’s regulations, due for a second reading on 12 December, will.

But even Berkeley’s regulation doesn’t require manufacturers to answer searching questions about toxic effects specific to the small size or shape of their nanoparticles; the real concern of those who want to regulate nanotechnology. With such incomplete basic research on nanoparticle toxicity, there aren’t any protocols that manufacturers can follow to show their products are safe. The EPA says it doesn’t know how to regulate the ’nano’ effects of a nanoparticle (rather than its toxicity by virtue of being silver, for example). ‘We haven’t figured that out. No regulatory authority has figured that out,’ Jim Jones, director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, told Chemistry World.

Which is why Berkeley regulators are urging federal legislators to invest more money into health and safety research for nanotechnology.

Read the full article (a preview from Chemistry World‘s January 2007 edition) here.

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