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The Case for Regulating Nanotechnologies: International, European and National Perspectives


  • Sekai Ngarize,

  • Karen E. Makuch,

  • Ricardo Pereira


Governments in leading industrialized countries are currently primarily relying on existing regulatory frameworks for environmental, health and safety regulation to cover nanotechnology risks. European and national regulators have generally concluded that any risks posed by nanomaterials can be addressed using existing frameworks, with minor adjustments to specific regulations. Identifying appropriate responses to uncertain risks is a difficult task for policy makers and regulatory agencies, as they are faced with a high degree of scientific uncertainty, the need to balance the costs and benefits of regulation, and the need to find a reasonable compromise between scientific freedom, technological innovation, consumer safety and environmental protection. As nanotechnologies are arguably only recently gaining public prominence, and their regulation is still in its infancy, this article examines some of the issues faced by regulators, offers insights into potential methods for regulation, and critiques the current state of international, European and national law and policy. The article concludes that to address the current regulatory gaps and environmental and health safety concerns surrounding nanomaterials, nanospecific regulation establishing product specification, notification, public disclosure and risk assessment requirements is necessary.