Risk Management for NanoBusinesses

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 2:19 pm    Post subject: Risk Management for NanoBusinesses Reply with quote

Risk Management for NanoBusinesses

Bringing Nanotechnology Products to Market: how to engender public confidence and exceed the requirements of regulators

The responsible development of any new technology requires that risks to health and the general environment associated with its development, production, use and disposal are addressed using sound scientific information and past experience. The difficulty with nanotechnology is that novel hazards and risks may be presented and this information may therefore be incomplete.

The public’s fear of ‘grey goo’ has been well-documented by the media. But negative public perceptions and a lack of consumer confidence can only fail to support a nano-industry in the UK. Moreover, the possibility of a potentially inappropriate regulatory framework could be serious barriers for UK companies in adopting nanotechnology, and could decelerate UK competitiveness.

In recent parliamentary discussions Ian Pearson MP highlighted current UK efforts to regulate nanotechnology health and safety and stressed to the house the Government's commitment to understanding any potential risks of nanotechnologies and to managing them within a proportionate regulatory framework.

Clearly, there also needs to be a bottom-up approach to risk management, and it is therefore vital that managers in organisations producing nanomaterials embrace a professional approach to this in order to increase public confidence, and also demonstrate to the regulatory bodies that all aspects of risk vs benefits are being properly assessed. Not only is this necessary to protect workers involved in production and use of these materials, the public and the ecosystem, but also it also helps inform the public debate about the development of these new, potentially beneficial, materials.

Consumers and producers are not the only parties pausing for thought in the nano-debate. Bringing nano-based products to the market raises questions for insurers. Limited precedence and a rapidly changing level of knowledge means that the concomitant lack of data with which to understand and assess nano-risks is an ongoing problem for insurance companies.

To address these issues, the Institute of Nanotechnology hosted a key meeting - ‘Risk Management for NanoBusinesses' - on 7th May 2008, at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

This meeting provided risk management techniques for individuals involved in nanotechnology research and development within companies, universities and facilities. The main areas of discussion included building consumer confidence, looking at the extent to which UK regulatory structures have been adapted to suit nanomaterials, and an overview of the NanoMark Certification System in Taiwan , which is designed to build consumers' acceptance of Nanoproducts.
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