The risks of materials containing nanoscale components are in the public debate discussed as if a manufactured nanomaterial will remain invariant with time and environmental exposure, and as if we can identify its risks by the risks of its nanoscale components. Additionally, the debate on mitigation of specific nanorisks by new legislation implicitly assumes that we can have full and accurate knowledge of the distribution and composition of nanomaterials in a product or the environment. In this discussion note, I argue that physical laws intrinsic to the behavior of nanoparticles both lead to limits on the risks to which we are likely exposed and on our technological ability to verify compliance with new regulations. My conclusion is that governmental actors should be careful not to overreact in their response to a technological revolution that only in few areas is likely to lead to increased public exposure, and in doing so using legal measures for which compliance cannot be monitored.
NanoEthics – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 26, 2017
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