Nanomaterials have very unique chemical and physical properties that suggest potential health hazards, but limited health and safety information exists for engineered nanomaterials. This review identifies a need for expanding efforts for addressing health and safety concerns in nanotechnology development and in nanotoxicology of engineered nanomaterials. The efforts include research to generate data for safety evaluation, toxicologic evaluation of potential human health effects, risk assessment to support risk-management decision-making, and regulations development to protect human health and the environment. The federal government's current understanding is that existing statutory authorities are adequate to address oversight of nanotechnology and its applications. On the other hand, the present review identifies weaknesses in the current research efforts and inadequacies in existing regulations. A collaborative effort involving multidisciplinary groups is a key element to address the related needs and issues. While federal agencies with regulatory responsibilities are looked upon to develop and implement sound policies and regulations to protect public health and the environment, state agencies may be required to initiate policies which rapidly incorporate new innovations and address public concerns. To address current and futures need related to nanotechnology, the responsible state agencies need to fill the information gaps and address the health and environmental issues. In California, activities have been initiated, but legislative authority and resources are required to provide risk assessment and health protection in an efficient and timely manner.
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