This is a relatively quick and interesting read and offers many comments, both the USA and EU should take seriously about some of their own efforts in the field.
This report is the two-year review to the government's response to the 2004 Royal Society report.
The report concludes the UK may be falling behind in engaging this field, most nanotechnologies pose no new health and safety risks, the Defra voluntary reporting scheme is promising but must secure high industry participation to be successful and an insufficient amount of funds has been committed to EHS concerns.
On a meta-level, the report complains the UK functions "primarily a responsive mode of funding to fill the knowledge gaps" (p. 7) when it should use a "strategic research spending" program (p. 7).
In terms of toxicity, it calls for "short-term toxicity protocols" (p. 8) for nanomaterials "currently on the market and being used by industry" (p. 8). It noted "the risk of exposure to researchers or workers to be extremely low" (p. 31).
While supporting Defra's voluntary scheme it noted alternatives, "including a compulsory reporting scheme" (p. 9) should be considered especially since Defra's first quarter report records only two organizations have submitted data" (p. 27).
Finally it called for "more in depth dialogue processes" (p. 9) with the public.
Some specific items worth nothing include:
- a call for more information on whether fixed nanomaterial may be free at some stage from wear and degrade during the life cycle (p. 11),
- a concern for mislabeling products nano despite them not involving nanotechnologies (p. 12) and warned it could lead to a contagion effect across the industry though it admits the Magic Nano example "has had little effect of Germany's high investment, both public and private, into the development of nanotechnologies" (p. 12),
- a call for some power to commission funding by the National Research Coordination Group (p. 15),
- a call for instruments "to routinely monitor workplace exposure to free manufactured nanomaterials" (p. 15),
- a call for "a minimum of a £5-6 million a year over the next 10 years to research the toxicology and health and environmental effects of nanomaterials" (p. 16) and that without adequate funding "our ability to engage in future international dialogue risks being compromised" (p. 17) and warned in "toxicology our understanding is little better than it was two years ago" (p. 23),
- a call for the "[d]evelopment of methodologies for life cycle assessments" (p. 17) including a "government initiative to adapt LCA methodologies to products containing nanomaterials" (p. 20),
- a conclusion that "the evidence that we have received does not suggest that there is serious reason to believe that nanotechnologies will cause global or irreversible effects that would justify the case for extreme actions such as a moratorium" (p. 18),
- a call for government "to encourage industry to reduce or remove nanomaterials from waste streams" (p. 25) and applauds government for working "with industry to cause it to refrain any release for remediation until there is sufficient evidence that the benefits outweigh any adverse effects" (p. 25), and
- a warning that public engagement "has been criticized for not having a major impact on policy" (p. 35) and recommended "industry to be significantly more involved in the public engagement process" (p. 35).