American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :1
No matter which way you turn, nanotechnology seems poised to impact on our lives to some degree over the coming years. As materials, structures, and devices are engineered in the nanometer size range, unique properties emerge that can potentially be exploited in many ways. The technology associated with manipulation at the nanoscale-nanotechnology-is underpinning research and development into new materials, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, energy management, sensors, biological interfaces, and electronics with hitherto undreamt of properties that have the potential to revolutionize our society. First-generation nanotechnology products are commercially available now, and increasing global investment in nanotechnology suggests we are only at the beginning of what some have called "the next industrial revolution" (global government R&D investment was $3 billion for 2003). However, as with previous industrial revolutions, the potential societal and economic promise of nanotechnology needs to be tempered by possible negative implications. The need to proactively develop "responsible" nanotechnology has been highlighted in a number of high-profile reports and articles recently and is central to the US government's strategic plan for developing and implementing the technology. Nowhere will this be more important over the next few years than in workplaces where new materials, devices, and products are being manufactured. Nanotechnology is based on the unique properties manifest in nanometer-scale structures, and it is expected that resulting products will, in turn, present unique health and safety issues. The significance of these issues is not yet clear. What is becoming apparent, however, is that the successful development of nanotechnology relies on proactively understanding and addressing the potential risk to human health and safety. As society stands on the brink of the nanotechnology revolution, this is the challenge we face as occupational health researchers and professionals.
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California