As EPA begins to regulate nanomaterials more aggressively, but as concerns remain regarding EPA regulatory efforts, private efforts to regulate nanomaterials continue. ASTM recently announced that it is forming a new subcommittee on Nano-Enabled Consumer Products. The focus of the subcommittee will be on uses of nanomaterials containing silver. In particular, ASTM noted that it would be considering the following possibilities:

Standards for measurement of silver in textiles and liquids (including atomic spectroscopy to assess mass)

Standards for evaluating the form of silver in textiles and liquids (including: electron microscopy to evaluate size, shape and chemical composition; ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry to evaluate size using surface plasmon resonance absorbance)

Standards for assessment of nanosilver exposure potential from use of textile and liquid consumer products (including: release from consumer products in biological fluids [skin surface, lung, gastrointestinal tract]; release from consumer products in environmental matrices [air, water, soil] throughout a product lifecycle).

There is little doubt that nanomaterials are a brave new world – one which indeed scares some people, notwithstanding nanotechnology’s promise. We are also entering into a brave new world of nanotechnology regulation – one which scares me a bit, notwithstanding my recognition that some careful regulation of nanomaterials may be appropriate.