Scott Rickert, Nanofilm President, Warns Against Poison Thinking on Senate Safe Chemicals Act

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In Taking the Nanopulse, his monthly column for IndustryWeek.com, Dr. Scott Rickert, President of the nanotechnology company Nanofilm, agrees with the goals of legislators updating the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, but urges all parties to refrain from “toxicity in the lawmaking process” as they consider regulating nanomaterials directly, not just as a subset of the chemicals from which they’re made.

So what’s keeping me up at night? Not worries about toxicity and nanotechnology. I’m worried about toxicity in the law-making process. Let’s put down the torches and pitchforks.

In Taking the Nanopulse, his monthly column for IndustryWeek.com, Dr. Scott Rickert, President of the nanotechnology company Nanofilm, agrees with the goals of legislators updating the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, but urges all parties to refrain from “toxicity in the lawmaking process” as they consider regulating nanomaterials directly, not just as a subset of the chemicals from which they’re made.

Dr. Rickert calls for a reasonable approach and open discussion without the sensationalism and fear-mongering that can sometimes infect the rhetoric on environmental issues. He suggests, “So what’s keeping me up at night? Not worries about toxicity and nanotechnology. We can handle that. I’m worried about toxicity in the law-making process. Let’s put down the torches and pitchforks and head to the conference table.”

While he concurs that the old law is in need of an overhaul, Dr. Rickert touches on several concerns with the proposed bill.

  •     Current law requires the EPA to show that a chemical poses a threat and use the least burdensome alternative to restrict its use. The new law would require all chemicals meet a safety determination that “provides reasonable certainty of no harm.” That definition needs to be made sensible and achievable, or run the risk of ham-stringing innovation.
  •     The proposed law also requires that aggregate and cumulative exposures to materials be taken into account. Dr. Rickert urges legislators to remember that manufacturers often do not control all the final uses of their products.
  •     The bill also calls for a minimum data set be provided to the EPA on every chemical. An unbending, unreasonable “precautionary” approach can have a crippling effect on innovation and raise a number of questions about the protection of trade secrets.

Nanofilm, co-founded by Dr. Rickert in 1985, makes performance-enhanced nanofilms, nanocomposite films and surface care for the optical, transportation, energy, sports and other markets. A frequent speaker at nanotechnology conferences, he most recently addressed the Global Russia Business Meeting of Horasis, held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Nanofilm is a privately held company with headquarters in Valley View, Ohio, near Cleveland. http://www.nanfilmtechnology.com

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Lynn Lilly
Nanofilm
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