PORTLAND, Ore. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin enforcing new rules next week regulating companies using carbon nanotubes.
Manufacturers will be required to file pre-manufacturing notices which will be used to evaluate the health and safety measures necessary to protect workers and consumers from possible health hazards associated with nanotubes.
The Toxic Substances Control Act specifically cited the requirement for pre-manufacturing notices regarding carbon nanotubes in October 2008, but EPA won't starting enforcing the new rule until March 1, according to the Bureau of National Affairs, which publishes information and product analyses for industry and government.
Now considered in a different category from graphite or carbon black, nanotubes are nevertheless still considered to be a chemical and thus under the jurisdiction of the EPA's Chemical Control Division. Since they are categorized in a manner similar to hazardous chemicals, the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said it will collect and evaluate pre-manufacturing notices.
Canadian companies are already required to report when they manufacture or purchase nanoparticles in quantities of 1 kilogram or more. They also must provide information about the material's physical and chemical properties as well as describe how the nanoparticles will be used, handled and stored.
The U.S. EPA is already formulating policies on how to handle carbon nanotubes, transitioning from collecting information to controlling risks, according to experts speaking at a conference last week on nanotechnology regulation. Eventually all manufacturers using carbon nanotubes will be required to supply protective suits and a breathing apparatus to workers handling them.
Manufacturers also will be asked to pay for developing toxicity data. Depending on the application, some manfacturers may also be required to embed nanotubes in a polymer or otherwise confine them in order to receive approval for a manufacturing process.