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Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 1427–1434 | Cite as

Dynamic oversight: implementation gaps and challenges

  • John Howard
Special Focus: Governance of Nanobiotechnology

Abstract

Nanotechnology is touted as a transformative technology in that it is predicted to improve many aspects of human life. There are hundreds of products in the market that utilize nanostructures in their design, such as composite materials made out of carbon or metal oxides. Potential risks to consumers, to the environment, and to workers from the most common passive nanomaterial—carbon nanotubes—are emerging through scientific research. Newer more active nanostructures—such as cancer therapies and targeted drug systems—are also increasing in use and are raising similar risk concerns. Governing the risks to workers is the subject of this commentary. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 grants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the legal authority to set occupational health standards to insure that no worker suffers material impairment of health from work. However, setting a standard to protect workers from nanotechnology risks may occur some time in the future because the risks to workers have not been well characterized scientifically. Alternative risk governances—such as dynamic oversight through stakeholder partnerships, “soft law” approaches, and national adoption of international consensus standards—are evaluated in this article.

Keywords

Benzene Hard law approaches International standards Nanobiotechnology Nanotoxicology National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act Occupational Safety and Health Act Occupational safety and health standard REACH Soft law approaches Governance 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Preparation of this article was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant #0608791, “NIRT: evaluating oversight models for active nanostructures and nanosystems: learning from past technologies in a societal context” (Principal investigator: S. M. Wolf; Co-PIs: E. Kokkoli, J. Kuzma, J. Paradise, and G. Ramachandran). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.(outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionU.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesWashingtonUSA

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