Taking Precautions Against Nanotechnology

If the Toxic Substances Control Act is to be rewritten (see below), one of the targets in the process will be nanotechnology. From the Houston Chronicle, “Warnings issued on nanotechnology“:

Pressure for regulation

This month, the EPA decided to classify carbon nanotubes as “new” chemicals. But even if all nanomaterials are classified as “new,” they’re unlikely to face a rigorous review because of weaknesses in the toxic substances act, said J. Clarence Davies, a senior advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

Davies plans to be among those testifying at today’s hearing before the U.S. House subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. He and others are expected to urge lawmakers to pressure the EPA to adopt a more comprehensive approach to regulating chemicals, similar to that of a 2006 European Union law. That act requires companies to prove chemicals are safe, unlike TSCA, which puts the burden on the government to prove a harm.

The looming regulations have prompted something of a boon for consultants who seek to guide companies.

“Everyone in the country is laying off people,” said Harry Bushong, president of NanoTox. “Right now, I need to hire people.”

Perfect. Apply the precautionary principle to nanotechnology and watch innovation disappear. But consulting firms…

UPDATE: (11:20 a.m.): And indeed, the testimony on nanotechnology came from the Chronicle-cited

J. Clarence Davies, a Senior Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


And here’s the witness list and prepared premarks for today’s Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on “Revisiting the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.”

  • Chairman Rush’s Opening Statement
  • Chairman Waxman’s Opening Statement
  • Testimony of John Stephenson
  • Testimony of J. Clarence Davies
  • Testimony of Maureen Swanson
  • Testimony of Cecil Corbin-Mark
  • Testimony of Michael Wright
  • Testimony of Richard Denison
  • Testimony of Kathy Gerwig
  • Testimony of Cal Dooley
  • Testimony of V.M. DeLisi
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