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Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Applied to Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Flame-Retardant Coatings in Upholstery Textiles: A Case Study Presenting Priority Research Gaps for Future Risk Assessments (Final Report)

Notice

EPA is announcing the availability of the final report, Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Applied to Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Flame-Retardant Coatings in Upholstery Textiles: A Case Study Presenting Priority Research Gaps for Future Risk Assessments.

Report Information

This final report presents a case study of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs); it focuses on the specific example of MWCNTs as used in flame-retardant coatings applied to upholstery textiles. This case study is organized around the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework, which structures available information pertaining to the product life cycle, environmental transport and fate, exposure-dose in receptors (i.e., humans, ecological populations, and the environment), and potential impacts in these receptors. A group of experts representing multiple disciplines and multiple sector perspectives used an earlier draft of the case study in conjunction with a structured workshop process to identify and prioritize research gaps that, if pursued, could inform future MWCNT assessment efforts. The final report is not a health, risk, or exposure assessment and as such does not draw conclusions about potential risks, or present an exhaustive review of the literature. Rather, it presents the MWCNT research priorities that experts identified in this application of CEA in order to aid research planning throughout the scientific community. The outcomes of these research efforts may subsequently inform long-term MWCNT assessments.

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Christy Powers
  • by phone at:   919-541-5504
  • by fax at:   919-541-5078
  • by email at:  powers.christina@epa.gov

Background

Cover of the Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Case Study Final Report Engineered nanoscale materials (nanomaterials) are generally described as having at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). Due to their small size, nanomaterials often have novel properties that confer different potential benefits and risk compared to their non-nano form. The assessment of such risks and benefits requires information, but given the relatively new state of nanotechnology, much remains to be learned about the characteristics and effects of nanomaterials. The external review draft of this case study provided a starting point for a workshop process that engaged experts with diverse technical backgrounds (e.g., toxicology, polymer science, environmental fate and transport) and sector perspectives (e.g., industry, academia, government). Information on a historically used flame-retardant (decabromodiphenyl ether, or decaBDE) was included in the draft case study document as a more robust dataset to help experts identify potential key data gaps in assessing risks from MWCNTs. Experts used the draft case study document to identify and prioritize research gaps that could support future assessment and risk management efforts for MWCNTs. This prioritization took place through a structured decision process that allowed each expert to have equal input on the outcome. RTI International, an EPA contractor, independently conducted this structured workshop process through the use of web-based tools and a face-to-face workshop.

Subsequently, EPA revised the draft case study document to highlight the priority research areas identified in the structured workshop process, as well as incorporate valuable feedback from public commenters and experts participating in the RTI workshop process. These revisions included streamlining the document by highlighting how decaBDE information could inform MWCNT research planning and moving details on decaBDE to an appendix. The revised case study (i.e., peer review draft) then underwent an independent, external letter peer review. EPA revised the peer review draft in response to reviewer comments to develop the final case study document. The research priorities presented in the final report, as well as those identified through similar applications of CEA to nanomaterials (see links below), are intended to inform ongoing research planning for nanotechnology in the general scientific community as well as at the EPA.

History/Chronology

Feb 2007EPA’s Nanotechnology White Paper recommends the development of case studies to identify unique risk assessment considerations and research needed to support risk assessment efforts for nanomaterials.
Sep 2009EPA initiates the "Nanomaterial Case Studies Workshop: Developing a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Research Strategy for Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide" under auspices of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors (invitation only) to identify and prioritize research needs for titanium dioxide, using the nanoscale titanium dioxide case studies and a structured collective judgment process.
May 2010EPA released the report, "Workshop Summary for the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, Nanomaterial Case Studies Workshop: Developing a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Research Strategy for Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide."
Apr 2010EPA conducted an internal review of the "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray" draft report.
Nov 2010EPA released the final report, "Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen."
Dec 2010EPA announced a public meeting to review and discuss the EPA Nanomaterial Case Studies reports. [Federal Register Dec 13, 2010]
Jan 2011EPA held a workshop in Research Triangle Park, NC on January 4-7, 2011 to identify and prioritize research questions related to nanoscale silver based on the external review draft of the Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray document. A summary report (PDF) is available that describes the workshop and its outcomes.
Mar 2012EPA conducted an internal review of the "Nanomaterial Case Study: A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles" draft report.
May 2012EPA conducted an interagency review of the "Nanomaterial Case Study: A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles" draft report.
Jul 2012EPA released the external review draft of "Nanomaterial Case Study: A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles"  for a 60-day public review and comment period and announced a public meeting to review and discuss the EPA Nanomaterial Case Study. [Federal Register Notice Jul 2, 2012]
Aug 2012EPA released the final report, "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray".
Oct 2012EPA held a Public Information Exchange Meeting in Research Triangle Park, NC on October 29, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. The purpose of this meeting was 1) for EPA to receive comments and questions on the draft document and 2) to provide information on the draft EPA nanomaterial case study and the workshop process conducted independently by RTI International. Following the conclusion of the October 29th meeting, RTI International, a contractor to EPA, conducted a separate meeting, the "Nanomaterial Case Study Workshop Process: Identifying and Prioritizing Research for Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes," in the same location. The Contractor’s Workshop Summary Report is available on the External Review draft document page (see “Related Links” below).
Mar - Apr 2013An independent contractor conducted a letter peer review of "Nanomaterial Case Study: A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles" (peer review draft). A contractor’s report detailing the letter peer review process and all review comments received is available on the Independent Peer Review draft document page (see “Related Links” below).
Sep 2013EPA released the peer review draft of "Nanomaterial Case Study: A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant Coatings Applied to Upholstery Textiles." This draft underwent an independent, letter peer review in Spring 2013.
Sep 2013EPA released the final report, "Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Applied to Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Flame-Retardant Coatings in Upholstery Textiles: A Case Study Presenting Priority Research Gaps for Future Risk Assessments".

Citation

U.S. EPA. Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Applied to Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Flame-Retardant Coatings in Upholstery Textiles: A Case Study Presenting Priority Research Gaps for Future Risk Assessments (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-12/043F, 2013.

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