Risk Governance of Nanomaterials: Review of Criteria and Tools for Risk Communication, Evaluation, and Mitigation

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2019 May 4;9(5):696. doi: 10.3390/nano9050696.


Nanotechnologies have been increasingly used in industrial applications and consumer products across several sectors, including construction, transportation, energy, and healthcare. The widespread application of these technologies has raised concerns regarding their environmental, health, societal, and economic impacts. This has led to the investment of enormous resources in Europe and beyond into the development of tools to facilitate the risk assessment and management of nanomaterials, and to inform more robust risk governance process. In this context, several risk governance frameworks have been developed. In our study, we present and review those, and identify a set of criteria and tools for risk evaluation, mitigation, and communication, the implementation of which can inform better risk management decision-making by various stakeholders from e.g., industry, regulators, and the civil society. Based on our analysis, we recommend specific methods from decision science and information technologies that can improve the existing risk governance tools so that they can communicate, evaluate, and mitigate risks more transparently, taking stakeholder perspectives and expert opinion into account, and considering all relevant criteria in establishing the risk-benefit balance of these emerging technologies to enable more robust decisions about the governance of their risks.

Keywords: decision analysis; manufactured nanomaterials; risk assessment; risk communication; risk governance; risk management; risk perception.