Sunday, November 25, 2007

Risky Business

The November 24, 2007 issue of The Economist has a very good article about the current state of discussions in the U.K. and the U.S. about the risks posed by nanoparticles. Some thoughts.
- One might conclude that some people are feathering their own nests...Do people at universities with research centers devoted to nanotoxicology (as well as NGOs which tout the associated uncertainty of this risk) have a vested interest in calling for more research on the subject?
- How will nanoparticles be regulated, measured, accounted for? This seems especially important if, as the article claims, the average person breathes in some 10 million of these a minute.
- Why, after nearly a decade of formal government funding, is there no clear international agreement on what nanotech is, as The Economist, claims, work is being done at the International Standard's Organization in Geneva but when will this be completed?
- Does anyone else see the problem in having the NNI both promote nanotechnology as well as the funding to mitigate its risks. I'm struck by a historical analogy with the early days of the nuclear power industry when the Atomic Energy Commission was tasked with both advancing and regulating nuclear power. And we all know how well that worked...

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