Concerned about regulatory coordination issues, the omission of new environmental data and an apparent failure to recognize collaborative stakeholder efforts, nanotech industry interests have reportedly urged Cal/EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and researchers with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to revise a draft April 2010 report on nanomaterial regulation. Additional information about the report appears in Issue 346 of this Update.  

The draft report contains broad recommendations for state regulation of nanoscale materials, and industry is apparently concerned that its findings do not account for rapidly emerging developments. According to a letter submitted to the agency in August 2010, the draft report fails to recognize the efforts of industry, government agencies and other stakeholders to address many of the questions raised in the report, nor does it discuss the “virtual explosion of research, information and real progress in addressing these matters over the past several years. Any document focused upon the policy challenges in this arena must take these efforts explicitly into account.” An OEHHA spokesperson has reportedly indicated that a revised version of the report, expected to be released in October, will incorporate and consider industry comments. See Inside Cal/EPA, September 3, 2010.

In a related development, The New York Times has reported that Northwestern University researchers have created edible nanostructures. Using nano-sized bits of sugar, salt and 190-proof grain alcohol, the scientists have apparently made a material that tastes “like a saltine cracker” without salt. Chefs who are experimenting with food to develop new textures and tastes responded favorably to this news, “intrigued by the possibility of inserting stronger flavors in the [nanostructures’] hollow pores.” The abstract for a scientific paper to be published in the November issue of Angwandte Chemie reportedly states, “Take a spoonful of sugar (gamma-cyclodextrin to be precise), a pinch of salt (most alkali metal salts will suffice), and a swig of alcohol (Everclear fits the bill), and you have a robust, renewable, nanoporous (Langmuir surface area 1,320 square meters per gram) metal-organic framework for breakfast.” See The New York Times, September 6, 2010.