Posted: 28 Jul 2016 05:16 PM PDT
Navigating the risk landscape that surrounds nanotechnology development can be a daunting task - especially if you are an early career researcher just getting started in the field. There are plenty of studies and speculations around what might - or might not =E2=80" be risky about nanoscale science and engineering. But surprisingly, there are relatively few guideposts to help researchers plot a sensible course through this landscape as they set out to develop successful, safe, and responsible products. Back in June, I wrote about seven basic "guideposts" that I find helpful in thinking about nanotech risks, from a researcher's perspective. You can read the the full article in the journal Nature Nanotechnology - here are the highlights though: 1. Risk starts with something that is worth protecting. We usually think of nanotechnology "risk" as the probability of disease or death occurring - or in the case of the environment, damage to ecosystems - from release of and exposure to engineered nanomaterials. Yet the risk landscape that lies between novel nanotechnology research and successful product is far more complex, and being aware of its shifting hills and valleys can help avoid early, costly mistakes. When stripped down to fundamentals, risk concerns threats to something you or others value. Health and well-being tick the box here, alongside integrity and sustainability of the environment. Yet so do security, friendships, social acceptance, and our sense of personal and cultural identity. These broader dimensions of "value" often depend on who is defining them, and the circumstances under which they are being defined. Yet they are critically important in determining the progress of nanoscale science and engineering in today's increasingly interconnected world. 2. "Nanotechnology" is an unreliable indicator of risk. While the products of nanotechnology do present risks that need to be understood and addressed, the term"nanotechnology"
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