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Facing the Challenges of Advancing Nanotechnology

Published on April 14, 2009 at 8:04 PM

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, automobiles ran on leaded gasoline without catalytic converters, DDT (Dichloro-Diphenol-Trichloroethane) was one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, and Ohio's Cuyahoga River sporadically caught fire in Cleveland when passing trains ignited oil slicks on the surface.

Today regulators face the challenge of advancing nanotechnologies, with designer molecules and smart materials. However, government officials are hindered by a regulatory system more appropriate for a 1970 Chevy truck than a 2005 nanocar - the world's first single-molecule "car" and a major step toward molecular manufacturing.

A landmark report by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology, describes how existing health and safety agencies are unable to cope with the risk assessment, standard setting and oversight challenges of 21st century technology. Davies offers bold new ideas, laws and an organizational structure to deal with the effects of emerging technologies. He proposes mold-breaking ways to incorporate the lessons learned in the nearly four decades since EPA's founding, including more integrated approaches for oversight and monitoring.

The changes discussed in the report will not happen overnight. But the report marks an important step in opening the debate about creating a new regulatory system capable of coping with the rapid pace of technological innovation and making the changes needed to revitalize government environment, health and safety functions.

Davies, a former EPA official, is one of the nation's foremost authorities on environmental regulation and policy. His new report includes a preface by William D. Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator.

*** Webcast LIVE at www.wilsoncenter.org ***

What: Release of a new report, Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology

When: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 12:30 - 1:30 PM

(Light lunch available at 12:00 noon)

Who: J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, Senior Advisor, Project on Emerging

Nanotechnologies, and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future

David Rejeski, Moderator, Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

Where: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 5th Floor Conference

Room. The Wilson Center is located in the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300

Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC; see: www.wilsoncenter.org/directions

To attend this event, RSVP to nano@wilsoncenter.org . No RSVP is required to view the Webcast.

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