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Update on Berkeley Nanotech Regulations

Friday, February 2, 2007

This is to update my analysis on Berkeley Nanotechnology Regulations in the previous post. On the December 2006 post, I suggested this interpretation:
  1. The duty is to report, no more, no less
  2. There are no exact standard as to the form of the report
  3. General minimum disclosure standards may apply. Producers shall disclose anything within the boundaries of their present knowledge. Non disclosure may arise civil liability
  4. It only applies to "manufactured" nanoparticles produced in the Jurisdiction of the city of Berkeley. That means, natural nanoparticle or nanoparticle resulting from side-reaction could be exempted from this regulation. This could also mean that nanoparticles being imported to Berkeley is outside the scope of this regulation
  5. The city cannot ban production and sale of nanoparticles by simply basing itself on the regulation. These are EPA's authority
  6. The regulation does not regulate nanotechnology as a whole! It only regulates nanoparticle. Obviously, nanostructures are exempted from this regulation
  7. There could be problems with regards to the definition of "nanoparticle"
With regards to point #2, I have obtained information that the standard reporting forms are currently being reviewed by industry and other stakeholders. So there might be a standard form of reporting. With regards to point #3, the report might need to be reviewed by an independent third party, a professional toxicologist or CIH, and this constitute a part of the reporting form. My interpretation is inaccurate with regards to point #4. Importation of nanoparticle to Berkeley will be subjected to the reporting obligation. With regards to point #6, nanostructures may be subjected to reporting obligation if one of their axis is 100 NM or smaller (fit the definition of "nanoparticle").

Preliminary observation on the regulation will be based on this report (pdf).

I agree with Mr. Hadithy that these precautionary approaches are required to protect the society from unknown harm. There is really nothing unusual with respect to the regulation, it is no different than normal chemical legislation which also require disclosure. The only differences is that this one is applied to nanoparticles. As have been discussed in my other posts, there is inconclusive research result on the harmful effect of nanoparticles to human.

Cambridge is also planning to follow Berkely in regulating Nanotechnology:
WHEREAS: The use of subatomic materials as microscopic building blocks for thousands of consumer products has turned into a big business so quickly that few are monitoring nanotechnology’s effects on health and the environment; and
WHEREAS: The city of Berkeley, California, has amended the hazardous materials section of its Municipal Code in order to monitor those impacts; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby requested to examine the nanotechnology ordinance for Berkeley, California, and recommend an appropriate ordinance for Cambridge.
The document of the Cambridge Civic Council Meeting is available here. It has also been in the reported in the news:
Cambridge, Mass. is considering becoming the second city in the country to regulate nanotechnology-- the science of building devices at the molecular scale -- a month after Berkeley, Calif. became the first.
(Note: Boston Business Journal's definition of nanotech above appears to depict molecular manufacturing, this could be misleading with regards to the regulation of nanoparticles)

I have one more question. Supposed the City found that certain nanoparticle have a "med" or "high" risk, what will it attempt to do?

(Many Thanks to: Nabil A Al Hadithy, Secretary CEAC)