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 July 2005 Feature
John DiLoreto is the director, American Chemistry Council’s Nanotechnology Panel, under the auspices of ACC’s CHEMSTAR Team. Since 1999, DiLoreto has managed a number of product-specific and issues-focused consortiums. Previously, he was vice president of Montgomery-Watson, one of the world’s largest water and wastewater environmental consulting firms, with responsibility for hazardous waste operations on the East Coast.

Nanotechnology Product Stewardship

American Chemistry Council Nanotechnology Panel Recognizes Value of ASTM Committee E56 Efforts

Interest in nanotechnology continues to grow around the world — capturing the attention of the business, academic, research, and regulatory communities. Today, industry-shaping changes are occurring in product development and stewardship, pioneering research, and manufacturing. These changes are driven by a revolution in nanotechnology, and they are both enhancing and improving existing products, and creating new products by using materials and structures with nanoscale dimensions.

The products and applications of nanotechnology are available already and widely used in many consumer products. These applications have resulted in plastics and composite materials that are lighter and stronger than those produced by conventional manufacturing, more efficient stain-resistant fabrics, ultra-thin films with diverse electronic and computing applications, and improved protection of the environment through developments in pollution sensors and remediation technologies. Other uses include improved and enhanced computer memory and water purification applications.

The chemical industry creates products and offers services that make life better for people around the world – both today and tomorrow. The industry is striving to make continuous improvements toward the vision of no accidents, injuries, or harm to the environment, and has renewed efforts to publicly report global health, safety and environmental performance. As with other American Chemistry Council (ACC) member companies, the company members of the ACC CHEMSTAR Nanotechnology Panel are committed to responsible stewardship, making health, safety and environmental protection an integral part of the development, manufacture, handling and use of the applications and products of nanotechnology.

Responsible Care Guiding Principles
There are 10 guiding principles that serve as the ethical foundation for the Responsible Care initiative. These principles commit ACC member companies to continuous improvement, responsiveness to public concerns about industry’s operations and products, and the ethical management of their operations.
ACC members are committed to the following ethical principles in their interactions with society, business associates and other stakeholders.
To seek and incorporate public input regarding products and operations.

To provide chemicals that can be manufactured, transported, used and disposed of safely.

To make health, safety, the environment and resource conservation critical considerations for all new and existing products and processes.

To provide information on health or environmental risks and pursue protective measures for employees, the public and other key stakeholders.

To work with customers, carriers, suppliers, distributors and contractors to foster the safe use, transport and disposal of chemicals.

To operate our facilities in a manner that protects the environment and the health and safety of our employees and the public.

To support education and research on the health, safety and environmental effects of our products and processes.

To work with others to resolve problems associated with past handling and disposal practices.

To lead in the development of responsible laws, regulations and standards that safeguards the community, workplace and environment.

To practice Responsible Care by encouraging and assisting others to adhere to these principles and practices.

The lexicon of this transformative technology is new and growing. While the term nanosecond is understood by most, other terms are less well recognized. The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (1) defines “nanotechnology” as the “understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers.” “Nanoparticles” are often mentioned and encompass a broad class of materials, including those that are naturally occurring (volcanic ash, ocean spray, clouds), incidental (frying, cooking, abrasive blasting, mining), and engineered (carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, semiconductors wires). While a nanometre is by definition one billionth of a metre, a number of other terms related to nanotechnology have no widely accepted meanings.

Nanotechnology is a natural extension and evolution of the science of chemistry, which enables the creation of innovative products that improve the quality of life, health and safety. Nanotechnology holds the promise of a new generation of stronger, lighter, and more durable products. Though the prospect of developing many of the enabling technical tools is still years away, the creation of new materials or smaller particles of existing chemicals is a fast-growing field, with applications ranging from electronic devices and computers, to enhanced clothing and sports equipment.

The Nanotechnology Panel is composed of companies engaged in the production, distribution and/or use of chemicals, with a business interest in the products and applications of nanotechnology. The panel’s mission is to coordinate nanotechnology research initiatives undertaken by member companies and other organizations, to foster the responsible application of nanotechnology, and to facilitate the exchange of information among member companies and other domestic and international organizations on issues related to applications and products of nanotechnology.

The Nanotechnology Panel believes that the establishment of consensus standards for nanotechnology, such as through the creation of ASTM International Committee E56 on Nanotechnology, will help diverse stakeholders manage and communicate effectively about this technology. Representatives from the panel serve as a resource to this international group, which includes stakeholders from government, industry (e.g., producers, users, and suppliers), academia, professional societies, non- governmental organizations and consumers.

Last year, the Bush Administration asked the American National Standards Institute to serve as the cross-sector coordinating body to facilitate the development of standards in the nanotechnology area. In discharging its mission in this regard, the ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel has identified several standards that it has characterized as “high priority.” These include:

• General terminology for nanoscience and technology, including definition of the term “nano,” consideration of impact on intellectual property/other issues, sensitivity to existing conventions;
• Systematic terminology for materials composition and features, including chemical composition, morphology, and size;
• Toxicity effects, environmental impact, and risk assessment, including environmental health and safety, reference standards for testing, controls, and testing methods for toxicity; and
• Metrology, methods of analysis, standard test methods, including particle size and shape, and particle number and distribution.

ASTM International is one of the standards development organizations that is working with ANSI to create suitable standards to facilitate the development of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology Panel members have the experience to assist with several of the priorities ANSI has identified. The panel is particularly qualified in identifying the impact of nomenclature standardization efforts on existing regulatory conventions, including the chemical nomenclature and terminology conventions under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act and other international legal and regulatory conventions. It is critically important that all such conventions and protocols be carefully considered when standardizing nomenclature. Similarly, when and how an internationally-recognized nanotechnology nomenclature is structured is of critical importance to ongoing regulatory developments and research initiatives. The Nanotechnology Panel could be especially helpful in informing the technical judgment of ASTM Committee E56 and other SDOs in establishing national and international nomenclatures and standards pertinent to nanotechnology.

The Nanotechnology Panel is also well-suited to help identify and comment upon environmental and human health research activities, toxicity testing methods and related standards development that will need to evolve to keep pace with fast-developing applications of nanotechnology. The multi-disciplinary composition of panel participants, which includes chemists, materials scientists, engineers, toxicologists, regulatory experts, and others, represents the breadth of skill sets required to facilitate and enhance the science-based approach that the responsible development of nanotechnology requires.

Responsible Product Stewardship

The Nanotechnology Panel supports nanotechnology products and applications consistent with the Responsible Care® Program. Since 1988, members of the ACC have implemented Responsible Care, a voluntary program to enhance environmental, health, safety and security performance, including expanded programs to research and test chemicals for potential health and environmental impacts.

Over the last 17 years, this initiative has evolved into a Responsible Care Management System® that requires ACC member companies to establish policies, review the risks of their products and operations, develop programs to address these risks, and institute corrective action and metrics systems to improve performance. Factors that drove this evolution included:

• Management systems that are increasingly recognized as key performance drivers by industry, government and academia;
• State and federal excellence programs that recognize companies that are implementing management systems;
• Businesses that are already implementing management system models for organizing their internal activities and delivering improved performance; and
• The need for the industry to demonstrate to stakeholders that it is meeting its Responsible Care obligations through an independent third-party certification.

Since 2004, each ACC member company’s Responsible Care Management System is being certified through a third-party auditing process. Certification audits are conducted by independent auditing firms that meet specific ACC qualifications for knowledge of Responsible Care and auditing experience. All ACC companies are required to conduct audits of their headquarters structures, and a sampling of their manufacturing sites during the period 2004-2007.

Product stewardship through management systems such as Responsible Care help safeguard human and environmental health, while realizing the societal benefits of nanotechnology applications and products. The efforts of Committee E56 to address areas such as terminology, nomenclature, environmental and occupational health and safety effects and test methods support the management systems approach to product stewardship of nanomaterials. For example, although there is general agreement on broad descriptions and definitions related to nanotechnology, at present there is not a well-recognized common language to describe the chemical compositions and physical forms of these materials. Subcommittee E56.01 has been formed to discuss the development of a consensus standard for nomenclature and terminology for nanotechnology.

The subcommittee has an ambitious schedule. Working with its SDO partners — including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, NSF International, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology — the subcommittee hopes to develop agreed-upon definitions for up to 100 terms by this summer.

ASTM Committee E56’s efforts to develop standards and guidance for nanotechnology and nanomaterials will help strengthen and illuminate the path forward in advancing the promise of nanotechnology. The creation of an ASTM terminology document will give stakeholders much greater certainty when discussing materials that are included under the general heading of “nanotechnology.” Similarly, given the need to harmonize research to allocate limited resources efficiently, identifying existing test methods that can be refined slightly to accommodate nanotechnology and prioritizing the development of testing protocols will go a long way in avoiding redundant research initiatives, and rationalizing the allocation of limited global research resources. For example, industry, government and universities are developing analytical procedures, conducting toxicity testing and working together on a wide range of scientific and science policy issues pertinent to nanotechnology. These efforts, which must be coordinated, will build the foundation for public confidence in nanotechnology applications and help ensure that private resources are used wisely and efficiently. The knowledge gained from these initiatives will provide the foundation for developing informed approaches and methodologies for risk assessment and risk management decision-making.

The chemical industry is committed to identifying, funding and supporting programs that will further refine scientific understanding to address health, environmental and safety issues. This commitment will help ensure that nanotechnology is developed responsibly and efficiently, paving the way for innovative products that will enhance the quality of our lives.//

1 The National Nanotechnology Initiative provides a multi-agency framework to ensure U.S. leadership in nanotechnology that will be essential to improved human health, economic well-being and national security. The NNI invests in fundamental research to further our understanding of nanoscale phenomena and facilitate technology transfer.

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