How Will Regulations on Nanomaterials Be Enacted?

While waiting for the Federal government to enact nanomaterials regulations, states are stepping in to fill the void

2 min read
How Will Regulations on Nanomaterials Be Enacted?

Certainly within the last five years, or perhaps even longer, whenever anyone raised the future prospects of nanomaterials a discussion of the impact regulations might have had to be included.

The impassioned, albeit often misguided, views of some NGOs on the toxicity of nanoparticles, has led many to consider how regulations might be adopted to mitigate any risk that they might pose.

Over at Nanotech-Now an editorial from John DiLoreto, CEO/Founder of NanoReg, we have at least the way in which these regulations may come into law in the US: not through the Federal government but from the States.

While the Senate continues to work on The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 (PDF), which will reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that has remained unchanged since 1976 when it went into law, states may take the responsibility upon themselves of regulating nanoparticles, according to DiLoreto.

There is some history of this scenario in the US as DiLoreto explains. He provides the case of phosphates in laundry detergent. When the Federal government didn’t act, states stepped in and enacted their own laws. With enough states doing the same, it no longer made economic sense for producers to make two different formulas for laundry detergent, one with phosphates and the other without, so they just eliminated the phosphate-containing detergent.

DiLoreto identifies “at least seven states specifically calling out nanomaterials for treatment as "chemicals of concern."” States that he goes on to mention that are currently engaged in some kind of examination of nanomaterials include, Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, South Carolina, Wisconsin and California.

It is in California where the regulations look to be the most advanced. The most controversial bits of California’s regulatory project have been the definition of nanomaterials offered by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which considers “materials under 1,000 nm to be nanoscale rather than the more commonly accepted 100 nm.” When this definition is coupled with the view of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that “all nanomaterials will be considered hazardous” the broad range of regulations that could come forth is staggering.

The prospect of states determining the regulations of nanomaterials on a state-by-state basis, which in turn will decide the fate of nanomaterials’ commercial prospects, seems as though it should be a somewhat scarier proposition for producers than one, over arching set of regulations from the Federal government.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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