Nanomaterial Risk Assessment and Risk Management

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Abstract

Managing emerging risks, such as those posed by nanotechnology, is a challenge that requires carefully balancing largely unknown benefits and risks. Here we review current nanomaterial risk management frameworks and related documents, with a focus on identifying and assessing gaps in their coverage. We do so using a regulatory pyramid, with self-regulation at the pyramid base and prescriptive legislation at its apex. We find that appropriate regulatory tools, especially at the bottom of the regulatory pyramid, are largely lacking. In addition, we recommend that regulatory agencies employ an adaptive, tiered framework to manage nanotechnology risk. The framework should utilize multiple tools at different levels of the pyramid, with specific tools chosen on a case-by-case basis.