Societal implications of nanotechnology: Occupational perspectives

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; College of Sciences and Arts


Nanotechnology-infused products have begun to enter the market in spite of the fact that many sectors of society are still debating whether or not exposure to such products will result in detrimental side effects. Due to a lack of regulation of nanoproducts, it is difficult to track these products to assess how they interact with humans and the environment. Acknowledging this limitation, several studies are starting to investigate situations where individuals are exposed to nanoparticles in the workplace; it is to be noted that manufacturing of materials is the first stage in the product life cycle where exposure may occur. This paper reviews and discusses the potential societal implications associated with the manufacturing of nanoparticles: health concerns, workers' perceptions, rights, ethics, and the role of policy and regulation. Scenarios are presented, possible implications are discussed, and recommendations are given for appropriate action. Finding the right solution to the identified implications represents a critical challenge. In summary, it is imperative that all stakeholders including industry, academia, government entities, and the public adopt a proactive attitude to ensure that nanotechnology matures in a sustainable manner.

Publication Title

Environment, Development and Sustainability