Report Finds Mixed Progress on Advancing a Research Agenda for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Nanomaterials; Oversight by Single Agency Could Overcome Barriers to Implementation
While some progress has been made in advancing the nation's research agenda on the environmental, health, and safety aspects of engineered nanomaterials, little work has been done in implementing an integrated research strategy throughout the federal government, says a new congressionally requested report (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18475) from the
The global market for nanotechnology is expected to exceed
The committee that wrote the report developed a set of indicators in each category to serve as criteria for measuring progress. The new report, prepared by the same committee, uses these indicators to evaluate the progress of recent research efforts in
The report classifies just one indicator as green -- development of methods for detecting, characterizing, tracking, and monitoring nanomaterial transformations in simple, well-characterized media, which falls under the objective for an adaptive research and knowledge infrastructure. All other indicators for both research and implementation progress ranged from yellow to red.
In order to improve the level of progress and move the indicators toward green, the report offers specific actions and objectives for each research category. But the committee reiterates a conclusion from the first report: Accountability for implementation of a research strategy is hampered by the absence of an entity with sufficient management and budgetary authority to direct research efforts governmentwide. In addition, the committee maintains that NNI would benefit from a clearer separation of authority and accountability for its environmental, health, and safety research enterprise in relation to its mandate to promote nanotechnology development and commercialization. Progress toward both of these indicators was classified as red.
The report concludes that more engaged and broadly reaching governance is needed for nanotechnology health and safety research. An important function for the organization that oversees the research will be to secure and maintain a sustained funding commitment over at least the next decade. The lead agency should also ensure that all stakeholders have access to a "knowledge commons" -- a collaborative environment for the development of methods, models, and materials and for the capture and dissemination of data. An integrated and well-coordinated program on national and global scales would help ensure that research findings provide the evidence needed to inform decisions so that potential health and environmental risks can be effectively managed and prevented.
The study was sponsored by
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