The responsible development of nanotechnology has been an integral pillar of the NNI since its inception, and the initiative proactively considers the potential implications and technology applications concurrently. Just as scientific understanding of nanomaterials has deepened and matured since the beginning of the NNI, the understanding of responsible development also has evolved. The responsible development framework articulated in the 2021 NNI Strategic Plan builds on concepts the NNI traditionally included in responsible development – such as environmental, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology (nanoEHS) and ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of nanotechnology – and embraces new ideas, including an emphasis on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA), the responsible conduct of research, product stewardship, and the circular economy.
The NNI addresses issues related to the environmental, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology through the Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) Working Group of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council . Member agencies of the NEHI Working Group have a wide range of Federal activities and responsibilities, including research and regulatory missions. Representatives from the NEHI member agencies meet regularly to discuss agency research activities, to identify areas of possible collaboration and cooperation, and to efficiently leverage Federal resources.