Nanomaterial Safety: Do We Have the Right Tools?

Congressional Briefing brought to you by
ACS Science & the Congress Project
Honorary Co-Host:
the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus

Nanotechnology has changed the way we consider environmental, health, and safety issues in chemicals and materials. Factors such as size, shape, and surface properties in addition to chemical composition may permit exploitation of novel properties. While the science to engineer nanomaterials has evolved largely since the 1980s, laws such as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to regulate materials were crafted in the 1970s. Therefore, does our understanding of and information about nanotechnology adequately inform policy to ensure safe product development? As nanomaterials proliferate, are current policies up to the task? This panel will discuss whether policymakers have or need to assemble the right toolbox to confront and reap the potentials of nanotechnology.

Video Presentations from June 27, 2012

Speaker Bios & Presentations

Kristen Kulinowski, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert in understanding and communicating the potential environmental, health, and safety implications of nanomaterials. Prior to joining the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. in 2011, she held appointments at Rice University as Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, Executive Director for Policy for the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) and the Director of the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON). Dr. Kulinowski directed efforts that resulted in the web publication of the first publicly available database of citations to peer-reviewed papers on nano-EHS, a survey of best practices for nanomaterial handling in the workplace, a public portal on nano-EHS and the GoodNanoGuide, an interactive forum for sharing information about nanomaterial handling practices. She is co-author of a white paper on training hazardous waste workers to handle nanomaterials for the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and was principal investigator on an OSHA grant to develop instructional materials to assist small-to-medium sized nanomaterial companies in creating and sustaining safer workplaces. Dr. Kulinowski received a B.S. degree in chemistry with honors from Canisius College (NY) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Rochester.

Arturo Keller, Ph.D., is currently the Associate Director of the University of California Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. He has been a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC, Santa Barbara for 15 years. Dr. Keller’s research addresses the fate and transport of pollutants in the environment, remediation approaches, and watershed scale management of water quality. His recent work has focused on the nanoscale, both in terms of the implications and the applications of these novel materials. Dr. Keller received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Civil and Environmental Engineering; he has a previous M.S. from Stanford and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University. He also worked in industry for 11 years.

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Denison has 28 years of experience in the environmental arena, specializing in chemicals policy and hazard, exposure, risk assessment and management for industrial chemicals and nanomaterials. He has published extensively and has testified before Congress many times regarding these issues. Dr. Denison currently serves on the National Research Council’s Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology and its Standing Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. He is a member of the Green Ribbon Science Panel for California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, and previously served on its Science Advisory Panel. Dr. Denison is also a member of the NRC’s Committee to Develop a Research Strategy for Environmental, Health and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials. He previously served on the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee, which advised EPA’s toxics office. Before joining EDF in 1987, Dr. Denison was an analyst and assistant project director in the Oceans and Environment Program, Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University.

Lynn Bergeson is Managing Principal of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C), a Washington, D.C. law firm focusing on conventional, biobased, and nanoscale industrial, agricultural, and specialty chemical product regulation and approval matters, chemical product litigation, and associated business issues. Ms. Bergeson is President of The Acta Group, a consulting firm with offices in Washington, D.C., Beijing, China, and Manchester, UK, and President of B&C Consortia Management, L.L.C. (BCCM) with offices in Washington, D.C. She counsels clients on issues pertaining to chemical hazard, exposure, and risk assessment, risk communication, and related legal and regulatory aspects of conventional, biobased, and nanoscale chemical regulatory programs under FIFRA, TSCA, REACH, and nanotechnology and other emerging transformative technologies. Ms. Bergeson is listed in Super Lawyers (2009, 2012), International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers (2006-2011), U.S. News - Best Law Firms first-tier ranking for environmental law in Washington, D.C. (2010); Law360’s Five Most Admired Attorneys (2010); and Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2005-2012). Ms. Bergeson is a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A., magna cum laude), and the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, where she was a member of the Law Review.

Related Information

Science and Technology Policy Institute, Institute for Defense Analyses

International Council on Nanotechnology


University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Environmental Defense Fund

Bergeson & Campbell PC

U.S. Government Accountability Office

  • Nanotechnology: Improved Performance Information Needed for Environmental, Health, and Safety Research. Report to the Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate. May 2012, GAO-12-427;

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology/National Science and Technology Council

National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences

Congressional Research Service

ACS Green Chemistry Institute

Publications of the American Chemical Society (free access where indicated)

Chemical & Engineering News
Environmental Science & Technology
ACS Nano
  • Nanomaterials in the Environment: From Materials to High-Throughput Screening to Organisms, by C.R. Thomas, S. George, A.M. Horst, R.J. Miller, J.R. Peralta-Videa, T. Xia, S. Pokhrel, L. Mädler, J.L. Gardea-Torresdey, P.A. Holden, A.A. Keller, H.S. Lenihan, A.E. Nel, J.I. Zink. ACS Nano 2011, 5 (1), 13-20;
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
  • Interaction of Nanoparticles with Edible Plants and Their Possible Implications in the Food Chain, by C.M. Rico, S. Majumdar, M. Duarte-Gardea, J.R. Peralta-Videa, J.L. Gardea-Torresdey. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011, 59 (8), 3485-3498;