- News + Media
IRG 3-1c: Expert Web Survey—NSE, Nanotox, NanoReg
(Christian Beaudrie, Milind Kandlikar, Terre Satterfield, Barbara Harthorn, Paul Slovic)
The 2010 Nanoscience Expert Survey examined the views of experts on physical and technological risks, societal risks and benefits, laboratory practices (where appropriate), and regulatory challenges for nanomaterials (NMs) and nanoenabled products. The survey was delivered to 2130 nano-experts, with 424 responses from nanoscientists and engineers (NSE), nano-EHS researchers (NanoTox), and nanotechnology regulators (NanoReg). The study was conducted by the UBC team (Beaudrie, Kandlikar & Satterfield) in conjunction with Harthorn and the Social Science Survey Center at UCSB. Data analysis is ongoing, with presentations at SRA (Dec 2010) and UC CEIN (Mar 2011). Preliminary results include:
• Consistent patterns in risk ranking of nanomaterial release scenarios and product applications across the three nano expert groups, suggesting a general agreement of potential risks. Occupational exposures and environmental releases from production facilities were deemed most risky.
• Significant differences in general risk perceptions across nano expert groups: experts in regulatory agencies judge risks across a range of nano-application categories to be significantly higher than corresponding judgments of NSE and nano-EHS researchers. Somewhat surprisingly, they are also more likely than other groups to agree that US regulatory agencies are inadequately prepared for controlling risks from nanotechnologies across application categories.
• Significant differences in risk perceptions across demographic categories, including gender and race. These small but consistent differences in risk judgment, once identified, should be taken into consideration and controlled when utilizing expert judgment under conditions of high uncertainty, such as when conducting risk analysis for emerging nanomaterials.
This work builds on the foundational research of risk expert Paul Slovic on the comparative toxicological assumptions of experts and lay persons, and offers an interesting comparison with IRG 3-2’s public perception work and with our partners in the UC CEIN. This survey will allow us to better understand disciplinary and other contextual differences among the emergent risk assessment community and their counterparts in basic and applied NSE, and better anticipate points of disjuncture with other stakeholders’ views, including the broader public.