Nanotechnology Needs New Risk Research Strategy and Funding; Report Will Call for Government Action

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Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies on PewHealth.org.

An estimated $32 billion worth of products incorporating nanotechnology were sold last year, and the U.S. government projects that nanotechnology will have a $1 trillion impact on the global economy by 2015.

But according to Lux Research, one of the biggest challenges facing companies commercializing nanotechnology innovations is managing potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks. Very little is known about these possible risks, and current nanotechnology risk research efforts lack the strategic focus, priorities, and funding necessary to provide answers to critical EHS questions.

Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk is a new report by Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, that proposes for the first time a comprehensive framework for systematically exploring nanotechnology's possible risks. The report, scheduled for release on Wednesday, July 19, moves beyond a general call for more nanotechnology risk research to recommend how this research should be prioritized and implemented - who should do what, when, and how.

The report argues for a top-down strategic research framework within the U.S. federal government. It recommends a shift in leadership and funding to federal agencies with a clear mandate for oversight and for EHS research, and proposes a major increase in U.S. government spending over the next two years on highly relevant, targeted risk-based research to address critical research needs.

Each year, the U.S. government invests over $1 billion in nanotechnology research. Worldwide government and corporate spending on nanotechnology research and development is approximately $9 billion. Many of the novel properties that drive this large investment - and that give nanotechnologies the capacity to transform medicines, materials, and consumer products - may also present novel risks. Yet little federal money is devoted to investigating what is safe and what is not - possibly as little as $11 million per year - according to Maynard's analysis.


What: Release of New Report -- Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk

When: Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Lunch 12 noon)

Who: Andrew Maynard, Ph.D., Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
David Rejeski, Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

Where: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 5th Floor Conference Room.
The Wilson Center is located in the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Webcast Live: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/nano


The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched in 2005 by the Woodrow Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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