NANO-SAFETY [08 October 2007]
NANO-SAFETY is not a simple solution or a quick fix, but must be a methodical approach that evaluates the risks and develops reasonable actions to ensure the safety of both people and the environment. Efforts must be in- itiated so that information can be developed and analyzed so that people can make informed decisions. The fol- lowing actions must occur:
The lack of a comprehensive program to identify the material characteristics provides a significant void in what materials can have what impact. This void needs to be remedied.
Many researchers are working on employing nanotechnology to deliver medicines to specific sites. This research, including benefits and issues, is being reported in various journals. There is a need to develop a comprehensive source of the information with a methodology of evaluating the information.
Without knowledge of nanomaterial properties, it is difficult to provide a completely risk-free method of handling the properties. Procedures that provide adequate safety for the people involved in the efforts need to be established, documented, and distributed. Programs need to be developed to disseminate the information to all parties involved in nanotechnology.
The business aspect is the most important for the development and commercialization of nanotechnol- ogy. The benefits of avoiding litigation provide businesses the incentive to implement the best practices for their workers’ safety. Establishing practices that minimize risk, creating training, developing con- trols, and ensuring worker safety require an established methodology based on the knowledge of the science and technology on nanomaterials.
Eventually, all four of these areas should be addressed as nanotechnology is developed and becomes part of the everyday environment. However, if it is allowed to develop in a random manner the development process will be long. Moving forward with an aggressive plan will provide the total concept of NANO-SAFETY much more quickly. With the importance of nanotechnology to future products, time is of the essence.
The ability to address the various issues is much larger than a single organization, even at the Federal govern- ment level, can accomplish. The planned actions described below indicate only the proposed alliances for the beginning of the effort. As the development of NANO-SAFETY occurs, organizations throughout the world will likely participate in the activities to establish a worldwide standard. It is critical that the organizations involved include all stakeholders. Consequently, multiple organizations need to participate: from academia to health in- stitutions, governmental organizations, independent research institutions, and independent for-profit compa- nies. To a lesser degree, organizations/companies with definite stake-holding in nanotechnology should partici- pate but not be a driving force. Key elements of the proposed program follow:
1. The identification of the properties to be investigated and the development of the actual properties of nanomaterials are absolutely critical to understanding whether or not the material may have in any inte- ractions with people or the environment. One of the first tasks is the establishment of the size at which
Copyright 2007, Walt Trybula & Texas State University
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