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Environmental Law Inst and Wilson Center Report on Disposal of Nano-Products

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  • Brett
    NanoWaste Needs Attention of EPA, Industry and Investors Better toxicity data and private-sector outreach strategy required to manage potential risks
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2007
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      NanoWaste Needs Attention of EPA, Industry and Investors
      Better toxicity data and private-sector outreach strategy required to
      manage potential risks

      WASHINGTON, DC ┬ľ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must make
      key decisions about how to apply the two major end-of-life statutes to
      nanotechnology waste in order to ensure adequate oversight for these
      technologies, concludes a new report from the Wilson Center's
      Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. However, the report notes that the
      Agency lacks much of the data on human health and eco-toxicity that form
      the basis for such determinations, creating some tough challenges ahead
      in EPA's decision-making process.

      In addition, firms that manufacture nanomaterials, investors, and
      insurers should consider the new kinds of liabilities and environmental
      risks that may emerge as a result of the release and disposal of waste
      nanomaterials into the environment. The report, Where Does the Nano Go?
      End-of Life Regulation of Nanotechnologies, written by environmental law
      experts Linda Breggin and John Pendergrass of the Environmental Law
      Institute, was commissioned by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies,
      an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
      and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The report is available online at:
      www.nanotechproject.org <http://www.nanotechproject.org/> /.

      The report provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of two key
      EPA-administered laws that regulate the end-of-life management
      strategies for nanotechnology materials and products. These are the
      Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Comprehensive
      Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also
      known as the Superfund statute.

      According to the report, companies must recognize that as a result of
      CERCLA, RCRA and other environmental statutes, the environmental due
      diligence that accompanies many commercial transactions and securities
      offerings should include an examination of the handling and disposal of
      nanomaterials. Insurers also need to "take into account the
      potential for CERCLA and RCRA liability arising from releases or
      disposal of waste nanomaterials and products in drafting new insurance
      policies, interpreting existing policies, and planning for future
      potential liabilities." Central to all risk management efforts is
      the need for the EPA to "conduct outreach and education to the
      private sector, particularly to small companies and start-ups, about how
      RCRA and CERCLA could apply to nanomaterials."

      "Today, with hundreds of nanotechnology products already on the
      market, one of the questions in greatest need of attention is how
      various forms of nanomaterials will be disposed of and treated at the
      end of their use. They may find their way into landfills or
      incinerators, and, eventually, into the air, soil, or water. When we
      throw something away, there really is no `away,' and this report
      takes a crucial step forward in analyzing how such concerns can be
      addressed within the current legal framework," said David Rejeski,
      director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

      Leslie Carothers, president of the Environmental Law Institute, noted at
      the release of the report that, "the end-of-life regulation of
      nanotechnology is a topic that must be addressed now, before the EPA,
      other agencies, and the business community are forced to respond to
      uncertainties in the law and its interpretation without any guidance.
      Moreover, we must take a lifecycle approach to managing the potential
      risks posed by engineered nanomaterials which takes into account the
      full range of uses, from production, to use, to disposal. We do not want
      a nanowaste problem to be a legacy of this technology."

      About Nanotechnology

      Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and
      manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is
      one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers
      wide. More than $30 billion in products incorporating nanotechnology
      were sold globally in 2005. By 2014, Lux Research estimates this figure
      will grow to $2.6 trillion.

      The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by
      the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew
      Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business,
      government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and
      environmental implications of nanotechnology. For more information about
      the project, log on to www.nanotechproject.org.

      The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org <http://www.pewtrusts.org/>
      ) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most
      challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to
      improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We
      partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations
      and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions
      and goal-driven investments to improve society.

      The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living,
      national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968
      and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and
      maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a
      nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and
      engaged in the study of national and international affairs.

      The Environmental Law Institute® is an independent, non-profit
      research and educational organization based in Washington, DC. The
      Institute serves the environmental profession in business, government,
      the private bar, public interest organizations, academia, and the press.
      For further information about the Environmental Law Institute, please
      contact Brett Kitchen at 202-939-3833 or mailto:mpressrequest@...
      <mailto:mpressrequest@...> .


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