EMS/Innovative Regulatory Approaches
Rather than simply applying existing legal authority and regulatory approaches directly to nanotechnology in all respects, an innovative approach may be needed for several reasons. Potential accountability mechanisms include corporate stewardship, voluntary programs, flexible and performance-based standards, tailored monitoring and reporting, and proactive public education and dialogue. While the protection of human health and the environment is important, the evaluation of standards and approaches should be done within the appropriate context of the material in question, its setting, and the actual risks posed so as not to raise concerns where impacts are unlikely or to unduly restrict economic development. The unique nature of nanotechnology may also require an innovative approach to industry’s concerns related to potential liability and confidentiality. Reference to foreign efforts may help guide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts toward consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness. Above all, the emergence of the nanotechnology industry requires EPA to think of environmental management as a systematic approach where regulation is only one of many possible tools to deal with potential environmental and public health issues.