The United Nations Of Nano

(NHI Nanoblog) Thailand has developed a “Nano Q” logo to identify products that contain super-small elements. Slovakia is just getting started with the task of figuring out how to work with nanomaterials.

There’s a broad range of official responses to the growing field of nanotechnology, and a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, offers a peek at what’s going on around the world.

The compendium is based on a March meeting involving government officials from Europe, North America, Asia and South America (click here to read the whole document).

For example, Safe Work Australia, an independent agency that watches worker safety, has recommended that workplace products that contain nanoparticles should be labeled as such, “when the hazards are not fully characterized.”

Nanotechnology leverages super-small particles (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) to create products with amazing properties. These materials can make bike frames lighter and stronger and sunscreen more transparent on the skin, as well as new medical instruments and medicines that can save lives.

There is broad agreement that nanomaterials hold great promise for a wide variety of applications. But shrinking these substances can change their properties; scientists are struggling to figure out whether, how and why that shift can make them dangerous in the process.

The report also offers a handy summary of what’s going on here at home. It details several moves over the past year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It also says “EPA is developing a regulation under TSCA to require notification of any new or existing nanoscale materials based on existing chemical substances,” a move that has been expected for some time.

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