Posted by: bridget | 17 January 2007

Nanosensibilities

Berkeley, California, is now regulating nanoparticles. All facilities that manufacture or use manufactured nanoparticles must submit a disclosure plan.

Under Berkeley’s definition of a “nanoparticle,” any particle that has a length, of any axis, of under 100 nm qualifies. Many gaseous effluents will therefore fall under this regulation. More problematically, nanoparticles are often smaller quantities of bulk molecules; many physical properties (malleability, ductility, suspension in a liquid, light absorption) are different in nanoparticles than in the bulk solid. So Berkeley would not be regulating any particular molecule (carbon nanotubes, however, would be an exception), but rather, a form of otherwise unregulated molecules, simply based on their properties outside of the bulk state.

The pachyderm finds the last clause of 15.12.040 to be particularly amusing. Prevent releases and track inventory of such materials? Um, by giving the quantum dots pico-scale radio transmitters? Monitor – with an SEM? Mitigate damage – but they are really, really small!

Hat tip: Volokh Conspiracy.

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