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Regulating Against Nanotoxicity

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“What is amazing about this technology is that we are able to create color through light and not through pigment. Put basically we are able to use nano science to control the colour effect by layering the compound’s structure. Different gaps in the layers and varying numbers of layers can all influence the color outcome when it is exposed to light.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently released a report describing its research strategy for addressing the potential human and ecological dangers of nanoscale particles. In essence designed to arm policymakers with reliable data necessary for effective regulation, the report has an admirable aim. A bit late in arrival, as nanoparticles have already been included in more than one thousand commercially available products, but still laudable.

A nice companion reading is Auffan et al.’s Nature Nanotechnology article. These researchers are making the case that “novel size-dependent properties” rather than size alone should be the basis for defining a nanoparticle as such in the context of safety regulation. Their research argues that inorganic particles larger than 30nm tend to not require any regulation beyond that applied to them in bulk form.

But one must wonder, given the history of governmental failure to regulate effectively even when hazards are clear and well understood, whether nanotoxicity research will be coupled with a political will-to-regulate.
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