Smaller than bacteria or virus cells, nanoscale materials, components and devices are becoming big business. With huge potential in electronic, material, transportation, energy, medical and other applications, nanomaterials are finding their way into everything from fibre optics, fuel additives and food packaging to tires, textiles and tennis rackets. How do we help ensure the maximum potential of this technology is harnessed, while making sure that social, ethical and safety considerations are properly addressed? Through standards. Work is well underway on a global basis, with Canada and CSA taking leading roles. And, as a CSA member, you could have a lasting impact on this emerging field.
Every new technology brings challenges, but nanotechnology may be especially problematic. Why? Because nanomaterials can behave differently from what we encounter on a macroscale... and, to date, there is growing but still insufficient data about the effects on human health and the environment. Yet the promise of this technology can't be overstated. In medicine alone, it presents new ways to test and diagnose conditions, and target drug delivery to where it's needed in the body. It provides for new flame retardants, water purification tools and revolutionary construction that is lighter and stronger... plus thousands of other applications.
With its pervasive impact on products and services - and the critical mass of subject knowledge being international in scope - nanotechnology calls for a global approach to standards development.
Since 2005, ISO and IEC, the two major globally-relevant standards development organizations, have been developing standards to facilitate the safe and responsible use of nanotechnologies, while supporting global trade in nanotechnology-enabled products and systems. The specific technical committees, ISO/TC229 and IEC/TC113, have over 40 participating member countries, including Canada since the inception of this work.
CSA is the facilitator for Canada's nanotechnology standards committee, the Nano CAC/CSC. This is a cohesive, country-wide national forum for discussion, input and participation in international standards work. Currently, 80 member-volunteers representing a wide range of nano-sectors, interests and geographical areas participate. But new members are very welcome, particularly from industry, where nanotechnology cuts across numerous sectors.
"Knowledge-sharing is a key benefit of CSA committee work, especially in emerging areas like nanotechnology," says Brian Haydon, CSA Project Manager, Nanotechnologies. "The time involvement is minimal, while the act of sharing experience and knowledge serves to illuminate risks and shape the landscape for trade and commerce, regulations and standards."
Canada's committee members review international drafts and documents for standards on an Internet-based online workspace and submit comments that are compiled to form a single national position for Canada. Most of Canada's members participate online and attend in-Canada meetings, held typically two to four times a year, in person or by teleconference. Some members voluntarily serve as technical experts, participating directly in writing standards at international meetings.
If you are interested in being involved, contact Brian Haydon at 416-747-4006, email@example.com