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Nano Risk Governance: Current Developments and Future Perspectives
Volume 6, Issue 2

Igor Linkov, U.S. Army
F. Kyle Satterstrom, Harvard University
John C. Monica Jr., Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
teffen Foss Hansen, Technical University of Denmark
Thomas A. Davis, University of Montreal

As with many new technologies, developing a framework for making risk management decisions for nanotechnology is a challenge. Risk assessment has been proposed as the foundation for many regulatory frameworks for nanomaterials. Although the traditional risk assessment paradigm successfully used by the scientific community since the early 1980s may be generally applicable, its application to nanotechnology requires a significant information base. The authors’ experience supporting federal agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union—as well as state agencies in Massachusetts and New York and cities such as Berkeley and Cambridge—suggests that nanomaterial regulatory frameworks could be built upon existing regulatory approaches with the addition of a more rigorous and transparent method for integrating technical information and expert judgment. The authors argue that the current focus on studying the amount of risk acceptable for a specific technology or material should be shifted toward comparative assessment of available alternatives, and the use of science and policy to identify alternative nanotechnologies and opportunities for risk reduction and innovation. This approach involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative decision analysis tools, offering roadmaps for assessing different information sources and making policy decisions. Two representative methods presented are the Alternatives Assessment method and the Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis method.

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