Nature Nanotechnology 3, 444 - 447 (2008)
Published online: 20 July 2008 | doi:10.1038/nnano.2008.198

Subject Categories: Environmental, health and safety issues | Ethical, legal and other societal issues

Late lessons from early warnings for nanotechnology

Steffen Foss Hansen1, Andrew Maynard2, Anders Baun1 & Joel A. Tickner3

  1. Department of Environmental Engineering, NanoDTU Environment and Health, Technical University of Denmark, Building 113, DK 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
  2. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20004-3027, USA
  3. Department of Community Health and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Massachusetts 01854, USA.

Correspondence to: Steffen Foss Hansen1 e-mail:

A new technology will only be successful if those promoting it can show that it is safe, but history is littered with examples of promising technologies that never fulfilled their true potential and/or caused untold damage because early warnings about safety problems were ignored. The nanotechnology community stands to benefit by learning lessons from this history.



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