"ICON was created to directly and openly address issues of nanotechnology sustainability now so that potential benefits can be maximized and potential pitfalls can be avoided," said Vicki L. Colvin, CBEN director and professor of chemistry at Rice University. "Success will depend upon the efforts of many people and organizations from a variety of sectors."
ICON welcomes participation from a diverse group of stakeholders, including academic researchers, government researchers and policymakers, industrial researchers and safety officers, and members of nonprofit organizations. ICON is located at Rice and coordinated by CBEN.
Activities in four categories will be supported by the council:
ICON activities will be supported by the hard work of people from government, industry, academia and the non-profit community and through contributions from industrial partners committed to adopting responsible strategies for nanotechnology commercialization. ICON Founding Sponsors include DuPont, Procter and Gamble, Intel, L'Oréal, Mitsubishi Corporation/Frontier Carbon Corporation and the Swiss Reinsurance Company. Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. is a supporting member.
"As a global science company, DuPont is proud to be a founding sponsor of ICON as it creates an international forum for discussion and debate of nanotechnology stewardship issues where diverse groups of stakeholders can work together to progress the boundaries of science in a sustainable and responsible way," said William Provine, DuPont's ICON representative.
Key participants from the non-profit sector include philosopher Davis Baird (University of South Carolina) and pulmonary toxicologist Günter Oberdörster (University of Rochester). Government advisors include Donald Marlowe (Food and Drug Administration), Andrew Maynard (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and David Rejeski (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars). Also in attendance at today's launch meeting were ICON advisors Tracy Hester (Bracewell & Patterson, LLP) and Sean Murdock (Nanobusiness Alliance), as well as staff members from public interest organizations including Environmental Defense and the ETC Group.
"What we're really trying to do is create a new model for the introduction of emerging technologies into society," stated Kristen M. Kulinowski, executive director of CBEN and faculty fellow in chemistry at Rice. "Instead of waiting for problems to emerge and then reacting, we want to get ahead of the curve. That requires anticipating, as best we can, under what circumstances engineered nanomaterials might adversely affect the environment or human health, and then engaging in research and policymaking to head off these potential problems."
ICON's first activity: Standards for nanomaterials
The first activity supported by the council is the formation of an international study group tasked with developing a universal, systematic terminology system for engineered nanoparticles. Research into the properties, synthesis, and applications of nanostructures is growing at an exponential rate, yet to date there does not exist a common language to describe the chemical compositions and physical forms of these new materials. This deficiency hampers technical communication within and across the various fields involved in this highly interdisciplinary enterprise; outreach to the public at large as products containing nanomaterials enter the marketplace; and effective governmental oversight of and standardization for the industry.
More information can be found at http://icon.