Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 3089–3099 | Cite as

Comparing nanoparticle risk perceptions to other known EHS risks

  • David M. BerubeEmail author
  • Christopher L. Cummings
  • Jordan H. Frith
  • Andrew R. Binder
  • Robert Oldendick
Research Paper


Over the last decade social scientific researchers have examined how the public perceives risks associated with nanotechnology. The body of literature that has emerged has been methodologically diverse. The findings have confirmed that some publics perceive nanotechnology as riskier than others, experts feel nanotechnology is less risky than the public does, and despite risks the public is optimistic about nanotechnology development. However, the extant literature on nanotechnology and risk suffers from sometimes widely divergent findings and has failed to provide a detailed picture of how the public actually feels about nanotechnology risks when compared to other risks. This study addresses the deficiencies in the literature by providing a comparative approach to gauging nanotechnology risks. The findings show that the public does not fear nanotechnology compared to other risks. Out of 24 risks presented to the participants, nanotechnology ranked 19th in terms of overall risk and 20th in terms of “high risk.”


Nanoparticles Risk perception Public opinion Ranking Comparative analysis Nanotechnology ELSI 



This study was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation NSF 0809470, Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT): Intuitive toxicology and Public Engagement. All opinions expressed within are the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation, North Carolina State University or the University of South Carolina.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Berube
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher L. Cummings
    • 2
  • Jordan H. Frith
    • 2
  • Andrew R. Binder
    • 3
  • Robert Oldendick
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Communication, Public Communication of Science and Technology Project, Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media ProgramNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Public Communication of Science and Technology Project, Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media ProgramNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Department of Communication, Public Communication of Science and Technology ProjectNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  4. 4.Department of Government and International Studies and Executive Director, Institute for Public Service and Policy ResearchUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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