velop and monitor the implementation of an integrated research strategy on EHS risks of ENMs. In response to EPA’s request, the National Research Council convened the Committee to Develop a Research Strategy for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials, which prepared this report. The committee was charged to create a conceptual framework for EHS-related research, to develop a research plan with short-term and long-term research priorities, and to estimate resources needed to implement the research plan2. In a subsequent report, the committee will evaluate research progress.
In this report, the committee presents a strategic approach for developing the science and research infrastructure needed to address uncertainties regarding the potential EHS risks of ENMs. This approach begins with a discussion of the need for a research strategy. The committee next describes a new conceptual framework that structures its approach, focusing on emerging materials that may pose unanticipated risks, and on the properties of ENMs and their influence on hazards and exposure. The committee then identifies critical research gaps reflecting the elements of the framework, and the tools needed for addressing these gaps. Together with the conceptual framework and the identified gaps and tools, the committee develops the research portfolio, identifying where changes in course are needed, and where additional cross-cutting research would add value. Resources needed to implement the research priorities are identified. Last, the committee discusses the need for mechanisms to ensure implementation of the research strategy and evaluation of research progress that will be conducted in the subsequent report.
WHY IS ANOTHER STRATEGY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH, AND SAFTETY RESEARCH NEEDED?
As nanotechnology has burgeoned, questions about the possible risks posed by ENMs have been raised, fueled in part by the increased production, by a growing awareness that adequate methods are not available to detect and characterize the materials in the environment, and by recognition that the materials are in products or environments where exposures potentially can occur. In response to those concerns, there has been an increase over the last decade both in funding for research and in peer-reviewed publications addressing EHS effects of ENMs, in particular from the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), “the government’s central locus for the coordination of federal agency investments in nanoscale research and development” (NRC 2009).3
Over the last decade, many assessments of the potential EHS effects of nanotechnology have been conducted worldwide by government agencies (in-
3NRC (National Research Council). 2009. Review of the Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.