Nanomaterials: Information for Product Stewards
Lynn Bergeson, managing partner at Bergeson & Campbell, started working with nanotechnology a decade ago, when it was unclear how the U.S. regulatory framework would approach them. There was tremendous interest in leveraging R&D and finding appropriate standards that incentivized research. The goal was to use existing frameworks without having to create new laws.
The good news is that concerns about potential hazardous elements have subsided, she said. Existing governing frameworks have aptly managed the risk while optimizing the technology. “We have stewarded this technology in a way that should all make us proud,” she said.
That said, the use of nanochemicals and materials does invite potential legal and stewardship issues, but there is a robust body of work readily available. Organizations have found ways to identify and manage hazards that nanomaterials might pose. How governance systems will address concerns as issues evolve is a question. The good news, said Bergeson, is that the governance systems globally are elastic enough to adapt.
Linda Dell, senior manager at Ramboll Environ, said that a product stewardship program is about risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. There are many promising applications of nanotechnology. To see some of the ways it’s changing the world, visit nano.gov.
Product stewards are already suited to dealing with nanomaterials. The processes that stewards use to asses and manage risk is the same to assess risk for nanomaterials. Dell suggested including different physical properties of the nanomaterials on the SDS, including particle size, shape and aspect ratio, and crystallinity, specific surface area and dispersability. In other words, when you have information, provide it.