nanoparticlesThe EPA is ill-equipped to manage the human health and environmental risks of nanomaterials, according to an analysis by the EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG).

From the report:

"EPA has the statutory authority to regulate nanomaterials but currently lacks the environmental and human health exposure and toxicological data to do so effectively. The Agency proposed a policy under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to identify new pesticides being registered with nanoscale materials. After minimal industry participation in a voluntary data collection program, the Agency has proposed mandatory reporting rules for nanomaterials under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, and is also developing proposed rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"However, even if mandatory reporting rules are approved, the effectiveness of EPA’s management of nanomaterials remains in question for a number of reasons:

• Program offices do not have a formal process to coordinate the dissemination and utilization of the potentially mandated information.
• EPA is not communicating an overall message to external stakeholders regarding policy changes and the risks of nanomaterials.
• EPA proposes to regulate nanomaterials as chemicals and its success in managing nanomaterials will be linked to the existing limitations of those applicable statutes.
• EPA’s management of nanomaterials is limited by lack of risk information and reliance on industry-submitted data.

These issues present significant barriers to effective nanomaterial management when combined with existing resource challenges. If EPA does not improve its internal processes and develop a clear and consistent stakeholder communication process, the Agency will not be able to assure that it is effectively managing nanomaterial risks."
The OIG recommended that the Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention develop a process to assure effective dissemination and coordination of nanomaterial information across relevant program offices -- a recommendation with which the EPA concurred. The agency provided a corrective action plan with milestone dates, although the OIG says the recommendation is still open, with agreed-to actions pending.