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With missing data about the large scale impact of nanotechnology, life cycle assessments of potential nanoproducts should form an integral part of nanotechnology research at early stages of decision making as it can help in the screening of different process alternatives. So far, however, life cycle studies of emerging nanotechnologies have been susceptible to huge uncertainties due to issues of data quality and the rapidly evolving nature of the production processes.
There are basically three life cycle stages where various U.S. agenices – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – could become active.
Three key statutes that come into effect at this stage depend on the intended application of the nanomaterial. Chemical substances and pesticides are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), respectively, and the EPA administers both acts. Food additives and drugs are regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which is administered by the FDA. Together, TSCA, FIFRA, and FFDCA apply to chemical substances, pesticides, food additives, and drugs primarily through a “premarket” risk-assessment, registration, and management approach. With this approach, each substance is evaluated and risk-management decisions are typically made before a product is released for use on the market.
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