Nanotechnology Project


Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology

Tuesday, April 28, 2009: 12:30 - 1:30 PM (Light lunch at Noon)

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5th Floor Conference Room - Directions

J. Clarence DaviesWASHINGTON – When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, automobiles ran on leaded gasoline without catalytic converters. DDT (Dichlorodiphenoltrichloroethane) was one of the most widely used pesticides in the world. CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) were in use as propellants in aerosol cans and coolants in air conditioners, and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River sporadically caught fire in Cleveland when passing trains ignited oil slicks on the surface.

Today, regulators face the challenge of advancing nanotechnologies—with designer molecules and smart materials. They are hindered by a regulatory system more appropriate for a 1970 Chevy truck than a 2005 nanocar—the world’s first single-molecule “car” and a step toward molecular manufacturing.

A landmark report by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology, describes how existing health and safety agencies are unable to cope with the risk assessment, standard setting and oversight challenges of 21st century technology. Davies offers bold new ideas, laws and an organizational structure to deal with the effects of emerging technologies. He proposes mold-breaking ways to incorporate the lessons learned in the nearly four decades since EPA’s founding, including more integrated approaches for oversight and monitoring.

The changes discussed in the report will not happen overnight. But the report marks an important step in opening the debate about creating a new regulatory system capable of coping with the rapid pace of technological innovation and making the changes needed to revitalize government oversight for protection of environment, health and safety.

Former EPA official J. Clarence Davies is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on environmental regulation and policy. His new report includes a preface by the first EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus.