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Goal Four Objectives
Goal 4: Support responsible development of nanotechnology.
As detailed in the NNI's Stragegic Plan, the objectives for this goal are as follows:
4.1 Incorporate safety evaluation of nanomaterials into the product life cycle, foster responsible development, and where appropriate, sustainability across the nanotechnology innovation pipeline, by:
- 4.1.1. Developing and applying:
- 188.8.131.52. Measurement and screening tools (defined as protocols, standards, models, data, and instruments) to assess the physico-chemical properties of nanomaterials and their biological effects in the environment and on human health and to quantify exposure across the nanotechnology product life cycle.
- 184.108.40.206. Models, including risk assessment models, to assess safety of nanomaterials throughout the life cycle of the material or product.
- 220.127.116.11. Health surveillance models as appropriate for the nanotechnology workforce (including laboratory personnel such as students, technicians, and trainees), consumers, susceptible populations, and the environment.
- 4.1.2. Creating mechanisms for appropriate and timely information sharing and dissemination among stakeholders including academia, industry, legal entities, Federal agencies, regulatory communities, governments (e.g., state, local, and tribal), the general public, and other relevant stakeholders.
- 4.1.3. Establishing guidance, standards, or other methods to formulate nanotechnology-related regulatory approaches for domestic and global researchers, manufacturers, distributors, and users of nanotechnology-enabled products to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.
In support of this objective, the NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy (“NNI EHS Research Strategy”) provides a research framework, including exposure and hazard identification across the nanomaterial and product life cycle, by identifying core research needs in the areas of human exposure, the environment, human health, and measurement tools. The NNI EHS Research Strategy is complemented by risk assessment and risk management approaches along with research needs in predictive modeling. It serves as guidance to Federal agencies as they develop their agency-specific nanotechnology EHS strategies and implementation plans.
4.2 Develop tools and procedures for domestic and international outreach and engagement to assist stakeholders in developing best practices for communicating and managing risk, by:
- 4.2.1. Identifying information gaps and prioritizing research essential for risk communication and risk management, which can address potential occupational and product hazards for start-up and larger companies working with nanomaterials and nanoscale processes, to:
- 18.104.22.168. Assure adequacy of workforce training and risk communication strategies through active outreach and engagement.
- 22.214.171.124. Increase available information for better decision making in assessing and managing risks from nanomaterials.
- 4.2.2. Obtaining stakeholder perspectives by developing and using a variety of methods, such as surveys, workshops, public meetings, and advisory panels; disseminating information through publicly accessible summaries of findings; and developing mechanisms for integration of EHS priorities and assessment methods into national and international regulatory policies.
- 4.2.3. Communicating available information about assessing and managing potential risks from nanomaterials and about nanotechnology-related regulatory approaches to both domestic and global manufacturers.
- 4.2.4. Increasing U.S. participation internationally in bilateral and multilateral fora and organizations that address stakeholders’ concerns surrounding the development of nanotechnology by providing information, guidance, training, and capacity-building resources for governments.
The NNI EHS Research Strategy provides details on how the NNI can better develop and disseminate knowledge with a range of stakeholders, and describes NNI efforts to engage internationally in the area of EHS research. Federal agencies actively engage with other countries on a bilateral and multilateral basis to help further this objective.
4.3 Identify and manage the ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of research leading to nanotechnology-enabled products and processes, by:
- 4.3.1. Increasing the capacity of Federal agencies to identify and address ELSI issues specific to nanotechnology by fostering the development of a community of expertise on ELSI issues related to nanotechnology and by providing a current resource list of experts that is accessible to a broad range of users.
- 4.3.2. Building collaborations among the relevant communities (e.g., consumers, engineers, ethicists, manufacturers, nongovernmental organizations, regulators, and scientists - including social and behavioral scientists) to enable prompt consideration of the potential risks and benefits of research breakthroughs and to provide perspectives on new research directions.
- 4.3.3. Developing information resources for ethical and legal issues related to intellectual property (IP) and ethical implications of nanotechnology-based patents and trade secrets.
ELSI issues are interwoven with all of the NNI goals and are integrated into each of the research needs described in the NNI EHS Research Strategy to help Federal agencies consider stakeholder concerns when identifying research areas and establishing decision analysis methodologies. The resources embodied by these objectives will help agencies to develop more robust nanotechnology-related ELSI research portfolios attuned to their missions.
4.4 Employ nanotechnology and sustainable best practices to protect and improve human health and the environment, by:
- 4.4.1. Supporting research to incorporate environmentally benign methods into manufacturing processes.
- 4.4.2. Developing technologies to assess the status of human health and ecosystems.
- 4.4.3. Fostering the use of nanomaterials as safer substitutes for commonly used compounds that have known adverse effects on human health and the environment.
- 4.4.4. Creating and implementing methods, nanomaterials, and nanotechnology-enabled devices to reduce human and environmental exposures to harmful compounds and remediate environmental contamination.
Nanotechnology can play a role in solving societal challenges such as access to safe food and water, secure living and work environments, clean and renewable energy, and diagnosis and treatment of diseases or medical disorders. Research directed at applications is complementary to EHS research; the support of both is needed to realize the NNI goal of responsible nanotechnology development.