Legal Lookout: Nanotechnology: EPA Considers How to Proceed
Nanotechnology is broadly defined to include technologies involving the control of materials and structures
with nanoscale dimensions of 1 to 100 nanometers. Because the ratio of surface to total atoms increases
exponentially with decreasing particle size, nanosized particles have uniquely large surface areas that offer
special and very desirable properties for, among other characteristics, cleaning, wetability, appearance and
delivery. Most technologies that are nanoparticle-based presently focus on enhancing surface modification,
formulation and delivery, and light scattering properties.
These properties present significant commercial opportunity in many different business sectors. For example, because of their tremendous heat transfer and conductivity properties, certain nanostructures, namely carbon nanotubes, offer significant commercial opportunities to the electronics industry. Their small scale also has made nanostructures a compelling new component of innovative drug delivery mechanisms, among other medical applications. In the chemical manufacturing sector, nanostructured catalysts can accelerate reaction rates, offer higher selectivity for desired reaction products, and diminish the creation of unwanted byproducts, thus reducing waste and all the costs associated with disposal requirements.