New Environmental History Program White Papers

Studies in Sustainability

As a 2009 summer fellow in CHF’s Center for Contemporary History and Policy, Christian Beaudrie put nanotechnology into perspective: If one meter were the distance between New York City and Los Angeles (approximately 2,462 miles), then one nanometer would be about the length of a grain of rice.

In his paper “Emerging Nanotechnologies and Life-Cycle Regulation: An Investigation of Federal Regulatory Oversight from Nanomaterial Production to End of Life,” Beaudrie discusses how at this size, the possibilities to revolutionize medicine, energy production, and consumer products are endless. However, with over a thousand nano-enabled products currently existing on the market in the U.S. and billions invested in future nanotechnologies, relatively little is known about potential hazards. As materials can react differently depending on their size (nanoscale or bulk form), many argue for regulation that can adequately address those risks.

Anna Lamprou, another 2009 CHF summer fellow, wrote a paper entitled “Nanotechnology Regulation: Policies Proposed by Three Organizations for the Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act.” In her paper, Lamprou outlines the primary law governing nanotechnology in the U.S. and its limitations as identified by three organizations. Currently, she writes, most nanomaterials are missed under the existing reporting mechanisms of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Both papers point to nanotechnology as a current issue worthy of debate, as well as to the need to find a balance between innovation and regulation. Visit the Center for Contemporary History and Policy Studies in Sustainability page to view the papers online.

Posted In: Policy

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