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Implications of Nanotechnology for Environmental Health Research
magnification, and toxicity are largely unknown. Thus, scientific results will have a very important impact on our future actions. Nanotechnology is a highly interdisciplinary field, and it will present a substantial number of challenges, concluded Suk.
Technology and U.S. Regulation
According to Teague, the government has active efforts under way, involving all the regulatory agencies as well as research agencies, examining the degree to which the existing statutes cover the risk that we might be having from nanoscale materials.
Furthermore, federal laboratories, academia, and industry are conducting research into how the new nanoscale materials—especially nanoengineered materials—may or may not differ from the ones that have already been researched, such as ultrafine particles and other materials that have been in our environment for a long time.
The government is keeping an eye on the nanomaterials used in commerce and is trying to understand risk characteristics and risk assessment of the products used in the marketplace from each category of nanoscale materials. Since nanotechnology engages many different disciplines, different agencies are involved in risk assessment and regulation. They communicate with each other and try to ensure that the nanoscale materials are covered by the existing regulations, noted Teague. Some of the new nanoscale materials can be incorporated into existing statutes and regulations; others require new evaluation because their properties are different from those of the existing regulated materials and they need to be assigned new Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers. The government is working closely with industry, academia, and researchers to evaluate the new chemicals and ensure that new CAS numbers are issued to all the new nanomaterials.
The NNI strategy is to ensure the long-term results of nanotechnology, both in terms of preserving the environment and providing means that will prevent further damage. If the promise of nanotechnology holds true, there are many opportunities for remediating and improving the existing environment and, in turn, improving health through its environmental interactions, concluded Teague.