Nanotechnology is the manufacture and manipulation of materials that are approximately 1 to 100 nanometers in size. Over 1,000 products that use nanomaterials are already on the market, including fabrics, sporting goods, and cosmetics.
The Environmental Law Institute’s Nanotechnology Program responds to the urgent need to develop an effective environmental, health, and safety governance structure for nanotechnologies. Nanomaterials are being emitted into the air, discharged into the water, and disposed of on land with limited federal or state regulation or understanding of the possible effects on human health and the environment.
Core areas of research needed to establish a foundation for a governance structure include:
- A comprehensive analysis of existing legal authorities and development of a regulatory and oversight blueprint;
- An assessment of alternative governance approaches;
- Development of public information and engagement tools and mechanisms; and
- An examination of management and implementation issues and strategies.
Upcoming and Recent Projects
ELI lawyers co-authored a chapter entitled Addressing the Risks of Nanomaterials under United States and European Union Regulatory Frameworks for Chemicals, (Breggin, Falkner, Jaspers, Pendergrass, Porter) in Assessing Nanoparticle Risks to Human Health (ed. G. Ramachandran) (Elsevier 2011).
June - November, 2011 TSCA Reform Series (via Webinar): Several issues are pivotal in ongoing efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the primary U.S. law that regulates nanomaterials. To foster further discussion of these critical topics, ELI convened a series of issue-specific webinars that provided a forum for focused dialogue among key players.
Publications and Convenings
ELI’s Nanotechnology Program produces timely publications and stakeholder convenings that foster the development of an effective environmental, health, and safety governance structure for nanotechnologies.
For example, ELI convened experts to discuss its publication Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies: Towards Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation in London and in Washington, DC. The report was supported by a grant from the European Commission to researchers at ELI, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Chatham House, and the Woodrow Wilson Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
In addition to other publications, ELI publishes the Nanotechnology Deskbook by Lynn Bergeson (Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.) and Tracy Hester (Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP), which guides the reader through the application of existing law and regulations to nanomaterials.
The Nanotechnology Program is led by Linda Breggin.