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A new report from a nanotechnology think tank concluded that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules about toxic chemical disclosures could work for regulating nanotechnology production, but they may need some tailoring. The Washington-based Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies report analyzed the applicability of the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory rules. The Toxics Release Inventory program, which sprang from the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act enacted in 1986, requires companies to report information on specific chemicals stored at the companies to state and local governments so they can plan for chemical spills and emergencies. The program also calls for EPA and the states to gather yearly data on toxic chemicals releases and transfers from industrial facilities, and provide public access to the data. According to the report, Project on Emerging Technologies Research Brief, there needs to be more research about the applicability of the Toxics Release Inventory to nanomaterials and study of whether additional disclosure laws are needed. The EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory program could “in theory” be applied to nanomaterials, but there’s a question about whether the EPA will make any determinations about whether particular nanomaterials constitute toxic chemicals,” says Linda Breggin, one the authors of the analysis and Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute. The project, which was formed by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005, hopes to help groups like the government, the public and businesses devise strategies to foresee and manage nanotechnology’s health and environmental risks. Environmental law experts need to determine if the Toxics Release Inventory can be applicable to nanomaterials because local governments are making their own rules, said project director David Rejeski. The city of Berkeley, Calif., adopted a disclosure ordinance for nanomaterial manufacturers and Cambridge, Mass., is considering a similar ordinance. “Soon we could have a patchwork of cities across the country with nanotech disclosure ordinances,” Rejeski said. The EPA did not return calls for comment about the report.

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