Environmental remediation, based on nanomaterials, is no longer a theoretical concept but a proven technology. More than twenty five Superfund sites across the country are using nanomaterials for remediation, and the use of nanomaterials continues to present tremendous promise for technological advancements in other applications as well, including ultra filtration of waste water. Use of nanomaterials or engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) could be more effective and cheaper than other conventional remediation practices or technologies. Despite the many benefits presented by ENPs, including their ability to decontaminate pollutants, many health and safety risks have been raised. For responsible development of ENPs and to allow this technology to play a major role in sustaining a positive, healthy environment and a vibrant economy, these concerns have to be addressed.
Understanding the risks posed by ENPs at the state and local government levels is a challenge, particularly when information regarding their fate and transport or toxicity, safety and environmental impacts of most ENPs used for remediation is lacking. State government agencies and programs will likely play a significant role in the future in supporting EPA's work of ensuring that the employment of nanotechnology for environmental remediation and other applications does not significantly affect the health and safety of workers or the general public. To support this endeavor, there is a need to identify, collect and collate relevant information relating to nanomaterials' safety, health and toxicological properties.
This presentation, given by Dr. Ephraim Massawe of Southeastern Louisiana University, will provide EPA with detailed framework, resulting from the inputs of various focus groups of experts, designed to understand these information and technical needs relevant for environmental, health and safety oversight at the state and local government levels. The framework includes seeking to understand from various experts, working with nanomaterials in the federal government agencies (e.g. EPA and their consultants), their opinion regarding the minimum amount and type of information and regulatory guidance documents needed for sustainable oversight of nanomaterials at the local level. Also, the preliminary results of a survey conducted with the state agencies and programs across the country to assess the information and technological needs will be highlighted.