Posted: November 23, 2006

EPA decides to regulate nanotechnology for the first time

(Nanowerk News) Hard on the heels of our news story on November 16 ("Concerns about nanotechnology washing machine ") that the German branch of Friends of the Earth has warned consumers not to buy a new type of washing machine that uses silver nanoparticles, the Washington Post reports today that the EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has decided to regulate a large class of consumer items made with silver nanoparticles.
The decision, which will affect not only washing machines but other consumer products such as odor-destroying shoe liners, food-storage containers, air fresheners, and a wide range of other products that contain nanosilver, marks a significant reversal in federal policy.
The EPA announced that said the final rules will be spelled out in the Federal Register sometime in the next few months. However, the EPA oversight will apply only to products advertised as germ-killing. Which means if a product is not advertised as "germ-killing", but still contains nanosilver, it will not be affected. This loophole will allow manufacturers to keep their nanosilver products on the market if they are smart enough to change their marketing. Hard to see the logic in this...
Nanosilver containing consumer products that are applied to the body, such as bandages, are not regulated by the EPA but rather by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). The FDA is still considering whether it needs new rules for nanomaterials.