Nanomaterials Environmental Health and Safety (+7 FTE, +$3,000,000)
The Administration calls for increased use of new technologies to enable innovation and economic growth and also increased environmental stewardship. Nanomaterials represent a rapidly growing new technology. Year after year, global spending on nanotechnology research and development (R&D) has ratcheted upward—to more than $13 billion in 2008. In 2008, federal funding for nanotechnology research totaled nearly $1.5 billion—or nearly triple the amount in 2001—and U.S. private-sector spending totaled about $2.5 billion. These sizable—and still growing—R&D investments in nanotechnology are evidence of the tremendous technological promise of the field and the fierce global competition to realize it. Currently more than 800 products on the market reportedly contain nanomaterials.1 The estimated value of nano-enabled products reached $166 billion in 2008.2 By 2014, this total is projected to climb to $2.6 trillion.3 Yet, despite the vast potential of nanotechnology, its future is vulnerable to uncertainties about the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks of nanomaterials. Industry and regulatory agencies require a science-based approach to identify, assess, and avoid or manage potential risks.
Proposed NIST Program
In its second assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology called on NIST to lead the development of materials and analytical standards for nanotechnology EHS research. “Such standards,” the council said, “are critical to characterizing and monitoring effects of nanomaterials.”4 The National Academies and others have issued similar calls. In response, NIST will:
As a result of R&D accomplishments under the proposed initiative:
1According to the Consumer Products Inventory maintained by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, www.nanotechprogect.org, accessed 02/05/09.
4President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Second Assessment and Recommendations of the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel, April 2008.