Focus

Environmental assessment

Engineered nanomaterials are already in use in a wide range of applications, and their everyday presence is only going to increase in the future. With such widespread potential use, the implications for the environment must be carefully evaluated to ensure that nanotechnology-enabled products are properly regulated. This special issue focuses on risk assessment and life-cycle assessment and their use in evaluating the impact of nanomaterials on the environment from different points of view. We also consider the need for stronger regulations and more effective communication about the risks posed by nanomaterials for insurance purposes.

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Editorial

Joining forces p713

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.169

Risk assessment and life-cycle assessment provide complementary information on the impact of a technology on the environment. We present diverging opinions on how to integrate the two approaches to best evaluate the environmental impact of engineered nanomaterials.


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Commentaries

React now regarding nanomaterial regulation pp714 - 716

Steffen Foss Hansen

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.163

The time has come to implement a regulatory framework tailored to manufactured materials. I propose a new legislative framework that combines registration, evaluation, authorization and categorization of nanomaterials.

Insuring nanotech requires effective risk communication pp717 - 719

Finbarr Murphy, Martin Mullins, Karena Hester, Allen Gelwick, Janeck J. Scott-Fordsmand and Trevor Maynard

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.162

The absence of nanotechnology-specific insurance policies could be detrimental to the development of the nanotechnology industry. Better communication between insurers and scientists is an essential step to provide a regulatory framework protecting both producers and consumers.


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Perspectives

Setting the stage for debating the roles of risk assessment and life-cycle assessment of engineered nanomaterials pp727 - 733

Jeroen B. Guinée, Reinout Heijungs, Martina G. Vijver and Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.135

Risk assessment and life-cycle assessment are both needed in the environmental evaluation of engineered nanomaterials. Scientists from both fields should collaborate intensively to deal with mutual challenges to achieve a complete and comprehensive assessment.

Evaluating nanotechnology opportunities and risks through integration of life-cycle and risk assessment pp734 - 739

Michael P. Tsang, Emi Kikuchi-Uehara, Guido W. Sonnemann, Cyril Aymonier and Masahiko Hirao

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.132

The advantages and challenges of integrating the methods of life-cycle assessment and risk assessment are discussed in terms of the objectives for evaluating nanotechnologies in a safe and sustainable way.

Integrate life-cycle assessment and risk analysis results, not methods pp740 - 743

Igor Linkov, Benjamin D. Trump, Ben A. Wender, Thomas P. Seager, Alan J. Kennedy and Jeffrey M. Keisler

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.152

Integrating life-cycle assessment and risk assessment makes sense only after results have been obtained in parallel from each procedure.


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