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Nanotechnology: Risk Assessment and Risk Management Perspective
Volume 8, Issue 1

L. James Valverde, Jr. and Igor Linkov

In the coming decades, the proliferation and use of nanotechnology promises to play an increasingly prominent role in society. As with many new and emerging technologies, the potential individual and societal benefits associated with nanotechnology are substantial. At the same time, very little is known about the potential adverse consequences associated with nanotechnology, especially as it relates to potential adverse environmental, health, and safety (EHS) impacts. In this paper, we explore a number of risk-related issues pertaining to nanotechnology. We begin with a cursory review of the economic dimensions of nanotechnology, taking note of several relevant trends and projections for nanotechnology global markets. We then discuss some of the risk management challenges that government regulators face in addressing the potential EHS risks associated with nanotechnology. Finally, we turn our attention to the conceptual and methodological challenges that global insurers and reinsurers currently face in assessing and managing this emerging risk. As part of this discussion, we sketch the rudiments of a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework that seeks to aid insurance underwriters and risk managers in their efforts to structure and evaluate complex decisions involving nanomaterials.

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