Public shares views on environmental, health and safety research needs for nanoscale materials

Approximately 150 people took part in the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) Public Meeting on Research Needs related to the Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanoscale Materials. The meeting was held January_4, 2007, in Arlington, Virginia.

Fifteen speakers, representing industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, and risk assessment consulting organizations, addressed representatives of government agencies with responsibilities in the area of nanotechnology. The agencies of the NNI had requested input on the research needs, identified in a document published in September 2006, and on the prioritization criteria for such research needs. The public input will be used to formulate the government’s recommended priorities for safety-related research on nanomaterials, which, in turn, will guide agencies and program managers who fund research in the field.

“We were very pleased at the extensive, considered input that we received at the meeting,” said Dr. Clayton Teague, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, which organized the meeting on behalf of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council.

“Overall, the comments on the government’s identification of research needs and prioritization process were positive. A number of speakers complimented the NNI effort, noting the document’s thoughtful and comprehensive nature. It was no surprise that there are some people awaiting the next steps and movement toward a strategic plan. And we’re now one step closer to that goal.”

Dr. Teague noted that even those who would like to see this process move rapidly agreed that the research and prioritization criteria identified in the government document are on target. “We are coordinating the efforts of numerous research agencies and looking for ways to collaborate with industry and efforts in other countries. Creating an effective strategic plan takes time. Safety research is not awaiting a final research plan, though.” He stated that the NNI agencies have funded EHS research since 2001 and funding levels are increasing annually.

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