Policy News

As Nanotechnology Reaches Below Sea Level, Regulations Aren’t so Deep

Published: Thursday, 18 February 2016 16:03
Written by STEPS
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One of the most highly sought after technologies is nanotechnology. The frequently evolving nature of nanotechnology innovation has heightened questions as to whether the regulations governing nanomaterials are sufficient in determining safety, while also fostering uninhibited field growth. In November of 2015, scientists at Rice University developed a nanosubmarine with a light-reactive motor modeled after a bacteria flagellum, as opposed to more traditional propellers (“Unimolecular Submersible Nanomachines. Synthesis, Actuation, and Monitoring” Garcia-Lopez, et al. Nano Lett 2015;15(12):8229–8239). This development demonstrates promising insight into unique research methods, new approaches to transferring medicine, and potential advancements in locating renewable energy sources. While the Obama Administration has continuously encouraged advancements in nanotechnology, the regulatory sphere has voiced safety concerns. In an April 2015 proposed rule that would be included in the Toxic Substances Control Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed reporting requirements that include one-time reporting for new and existing individual nanoscale materials before they are manufactured or processed. See: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2010-0572-0001