Beyond Chemicals: The Lessons that Toxic Substance Regulatory Reform Can Learn from Nanotechnology
Volume 85

Scott Bomkamp

Nanotechnology is a revolution in materials science. By manipulating molecules on the scale of billionths-of-a-meter, scientists have created materials that exhibit incredible feats of conductivity, reactivity, and optical sensitivity. By 2015, nanotechnology is projected to be a trillion-dollar-a-year industry. But despite this promise, regulation will be necessary because nanotechnology presents novel, serious, and possibly irreversible threats to human health and the environment. A key point for nanotechnology regulation is the point of manufacture. The current point-of-manufacture statute for chemicals in the United States is The Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). TSCA has long been recognized as an underperformer among United States environmental laws because it fails to adequately protect human health and the environment. Presently, legislators are looking to a recently-enacted European directive known as REACH for ideas to improve TSCA. However, both REACH and TSCA have serious gaps with regard to nanotechnology. This article discusses how a third-generation chemical substances statute can fill these gaps and maximize nanotechnology’s economic benefit.

Full article (.pdf) available here.