The voluntary nanomaterials reporting system used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a failure, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The EPA launched the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program over a year ago in attempts to identify and collect data regarding the nanomaterials currently being used by manufacturers in the U.S.
However, a new report released by the EPA says that they’ve received information on less than 100 nanomaterials, though they believe that there are over 1000 in use.
Nanomaterials behave differently than other materials and can have effects on both human health and the environment. Because the EPA’s reporting program was voluntary, however, many companies simply did not submit information. In addition, they have no way of knowing whether or not the data they did collect is complete. Many companies refused data reporting, claiming that the information the EPA want is confidential business information.
Only four companies – Selah Technologies, Inc., SouthWest NanoTechnologies, Inc., Swan Chemicals Inc., and Unidym – have agreed to voluntary testing based on what they’ve reported, and only seven others have agreed to submit further information. The EPA initially invited over 500 companies and organizations to take part in the program.
This is not the first time EDF has pointed out problems with the EPA’s voluntary program. In September of 2007, they criticized the program, saying that mandatory reporting rules are needed. The EPA calls the program a success in their most recent report.
Nanomaterials and materials used in conjunction with them are being used more and more readily in commercial products, but few have been studied to determine risks.