An article, entitled An Anticipatory Governance Approach to Carbon Nanotubes, published in the journal Risk Analysis, discusses the potential strategies in regulating emerging applications of carbon nanotubes.
Carbon nanotubes find applications in composite materials, such as those used in aircraft frames, hydrogen storage prototypes, sensors and many more. However, the characterisation of carbon nanotubes (CNT) toxicity still presents a challenge in identifying the effects as well as appropriate dosimetry. These challenges can be met, but at present the scientific uncertainty about the hazards of CNTs are likely to continue.
The article indicates that the US policy makers are looking for answers to questions like 'What level of evidence is necessary and sufficient to justify regulatory action?' The insufficient knowledge on toxicology makes the regulatory analysis very limited.
The concept of anticipatory governance suggests that in the absence of research data and given conflicting nature of the results, how would stakeholders make the right decisions. The article argues that in the absence of the data for CNTs they should be treated "as if" they are hazardous. The report goes further in equally highlighting some systemic uncertainties in many recent experiments.
The article concludes that to address the ongoing uncertainty about the effects of CNTs it is important to limit the exposure through the entire life cycle of the nanomaterial applications. Any anticipatory approach should include the issues with nanomaterials application end of life, which is not well covered in recent literature.
Follow this link to read the full paper in the journal Risk Analysis.