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IRG 3-1b: Expert Interviews-Regulators
(Joseph Conti, Christian Beaudrie, Milind Kandlikar, Terre Satterfield)
This research focuses on regulations around the life cycle of nano, including the views of nano regulators and policymakers. Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law at UW Madison Joe Conti—an expert on international governance who has worked with IRG 3 on the 2008 public risk perception survey and the 2006 industry EHS survey—conducted a series of interviews in 2010 with US nano regulators to explore comparative interagency views on issues of regulating nanomaterials and nano-enabled technologies. He is currently preparing a first analysis from interviews with EPA experts, which will interface with the expert web survey project (IRG 3-1c) and the UBC team’s analytic work on regulation across the life cycle, as well as the collaborative work in the UC CEIN.
In 2010, the UBC team completed a study of regulation across the life cycle of nanomaterials, led by Christian Beaudrie under the supervision of Kandlikar and Satterfield; this resulted in a commissioned report for the Chemical Heritage Foundation that was released in Sept. 2010. This work identified critical gaps that create a regulatory “no-man’s land” and make it difficult for regulatory agencies to collect risk relevant data, and conduct risk analyses for emerging nanomaterials at each stage of their life cycle.
The UBC team is also analyzing the emergent nano risk assessment context and providing critical analysis of the challenges. For example, they have argued that decision-analytic tools (such as risk-ranking, multi-criteria decision analysis, and control banding) can be adapted to help make decisions about emerging nanotechnologies and nanomaterials. Yet, they note that decision analytic research and tool development is lagging, and will require targeted funding mechanisms (Beaudrie & Kandlikar 2011). Also, they point out that baseline information call-ins for nanomaterials have so far provided scant data to assist in risk assessment (EPA’s NMSP, DTSC’s call-in). However, they argue that both approaches have some merit, with the DTSC call-in benefiting from engagement with companies. They note that confidentiality (CBI—Confidential Business Information) claims are likely to be a significant barrier to collecting risk-relevant data by regulatory agencies, and future information call-ins should be designed carefully with decision-objectives and potential barriers in mind. The team is conducting an experimental expert workshop in 2011 to address lagging development.