SNNI's statement regarding the NRC report, December 2008
A National Research Council (NRC) panel recently criticized the federal government stating that it was not doing enough to identify the potential health and environmental risks from engineered nanomaterials and called for a sweeping new effort from individuals in and out of the government to assess them. The report calls for greater investment in research to address nanoEHS. It also points out, repeatedly, the need for collaboration and cooperation between the scientific and broader stakeholders and also suggests key research focus areas needed to address the problem.
For the past four years, SNNI has been assessing how to implement the strategy the NRC recommends. SNNI and Oregon serve as successful models to guide agencies as they look toward implementing the strategies proposed by the NRC panel. For example:
Coordination: We have these broad groups working together - nanomaterials synthesis, nanometrology (characterization) experts, toxicologists, biologists, chemists and physicists sharing expertise and challenging each other across disciplinary lines. This was the primary focus of a perspective SNNI recently published in ACS Nano.
Stakeholder involvement: We are working closely with industry to determine which of the research challenges/areas we should address to help them bring safer materials to market. Companies like Invitrogen, HP, and FEI have been actively involved with SNNI and have been active participants in the Greener Nano conference series that we host annually to (re)define the research agenda and promote industrial adoption. Our representatives have also been very active throughout the scientific community working with federal agencies and coalitions to promote a more coordinated research agenda. In addition, we collaborate with non-governmental organizations and participate in public awareness seminars and focus groups.
Key research areas: SNNI has pioneered research in nearly all of the key areas pointed out in the report - health impacts, nanometrology, materials design for safety, just to mention a few areas. As an indicator of success, SNNI has leveraged its initial $8M investment into more than $30M in research funding and >70 papers submitted or published.