Monthly Archives: March 2015

NNI Report Assessing the Status of EHS Risk Science

Report examines progress three years after the release of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy

(March 21, 2015) The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) today published the report from the workshop, “Stakeholder Perspectives on Perception, Assessment, and Management of the Potential Risks of Nanotechnology” (R3 Workshop), which was held September 10-11, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The goal of the workshop was to assess the status of nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risk science three years after the development of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy and to identify the tools and best practices used by risk assessors to address the implications of nanotechnology. A wide range of stakeholders including Federal and State regulators, small and large businesses, insurance companies, academic researchers, occupational safety specialists, and public and environmental advocacy groups shared their perspectives on the risk management process; discussed strategies and approaches for improving risk science methods; and examined ways that NNI agencies can assist stakeholders in the responsible development of nanotechnology.

Stakeholders participating in the workshop presented their perspectives and methods used to assess and manage the potential risks of nanotechnology. Research presented at the workshop shows that technical risk data alone will not enable decisions; risk evaluations by different stakeholders with varying biases, values, and stances can affect the perceptions and behaviors (e.g., investment or personal safety decisions) of consumers, regulators, developers, manufacturers, and insurers.

Following a robust dialogue among participants, including a variety of stakeholder perspectives, participants identified needs in four areas. (The following list is not prioritized):

  • Communication Resources, including improved transparency in reporting the presence of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and continued collaboration among diverse stakeholder groups.
  • Decision Tools, such as improved detection and characterization tools; improved methods for assessing both actual exposure to and potential risk from ENMs; tools to address nanotechnology-related environmental, health, and safety (“nanoEHS”) issues sooner in the product life cycle.
  • Data Resources, such as repositories or databases to facilitate access to or organization of existing information on nanoEHS; methods for accessing and investigating potentially protected information; and continued toxicology studies on the effects of ENMs.
  • Standards and Guidance Resources, in order to facilitate navigation of nanotechnology-enabled applications through the regulatory process and improved data quality and methods for reporting data used in nanomaterial risk assessment.

To view the full report, please visit www.nano.gov/R3report.

Media Contact: Marlowe Newman, mnewman@nnco.nano.gov or 703-292-7128

NNI Releases Supplement to the President’s 2016 Budget

Budget provides $1.5 billion in funding; details progress on NSIs, collaborations between Federal agencies

(March 11, 2015) The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 provides $1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a continued Federal investment in support of the President’s priorities and innovation strategy. Cumulatively totaling more than $22 billion since the inception of the NNI in 2001, this funding reflects nanotechnology’s potential to significantly improve our fundamental understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale and to translate that knowledge into solutions for critical national needs.

Nearly half of the requested budget is dedicated to applications-focused R&D and support for the Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs), reflecting an increased emphasis within the NNI on accelerating the transition of nanotechnology-based discoveries from lab to market. The NSIs are multiagency initiatives designed to accelerate innovation in areas of national priority through enhanced interagency coordination and collaboration. Furthermore, the NNI has continued to grow its hallmark environmental, health, and safety (EHS) activities, which now account for more than 10% of the NNI’s total budget (7% in dedicated EHS investments plus approximately 3% in additional EHS-related investments within the NSIs).

“Right now, the NNI is focused on innovations that support national priorities, while maintaining a strong foundation of fundamental research in nanoscience,” says Dr. Michael Meador, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. “Our goal is to create an environment to foster technology transfer and new applications today, while supporting the basic research that will provide a continuing pipeline of new discoveries to enable future revolutionary applications tomorrow.”

The President’s 2016 Budget supports nanoscale science, engineering, and technology R&D at 11 agencies; another 9 agencies have nanotechnology-related mission interests or regulatory responsibilities. The NNI Supplement to the President’s 2016 Budget documents activities of these agencies in addressing the goals and objectives of the NNI.

To view the full document, visit www.nano.gov/2016BudgetSupplement.