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Posted: March 27, 2009
Working and living with nanotechnologies
(Nanowerk News) Nano is entering our daily lives in many ways - as technological improvements of existing materials, or as products with completely new properties. The products are produced and used by workers in many different companies and it is uncertain if exposure to nanomaterials occurs and whether they give rise to adverse health effects. Through production emissions, product use, or degradation, nanoparticles may reach the environment, also with largely unknown adverse environmental or health effects.
Early scientific findings indicate that many nanoparticles are not harmless. But it is a long way until risk information can reach the user of nano-enhanced products, resulting in a growing demand for a precautionary approach towards the use of nanomaterials.
After engaging in a three-year learning process, European Trade Unions and European environmental NGOs have formulated position statements calling upon industry and governments to pursue the responsible development of nanotechnologies and to operationalise comprehensive precautionary measures that can effectively prevent harm to the user and the environment.
At the NanoCap conference European Trade Unions and Environmental NGOs will present their positions and perspectives on nanotechnologies at the workplace and in the environment. In subsequent panel discussions these positions will be submitted to an exchange of opinions with Members of European Parliament, representatives from the European Commission, industry, consumer associations, and the scientific community. The discussions will mainly concern options for European policies and priorities for the responsible development of nanotechnologies, especially regarding environmental and workplace safety: What are appropriate measures for implementing a precautionary approach? STOA will present its assessment of the potential and policy implications of nanotechnologies. Also, a portfolio of nano-ethical issues will be presented.
NanoCap is a European project with the aim to build critical capacity for European Trade Unions and Environmental NGOs. The project sought to identify and articulate uncertainties with respect to the risks and benefits for society, and to deepen the understanding of environmental, occupational health and safety risks and ethical aspects of nanotechnologies. NanoCap is funded by the EU, FP6, Science & Society programme for the period Sept‘06 – Aug‘09 and is coordinated by IVAM UvA BV. Engaged in a mutual learning-process with five European universities, Trade Unions and NGOs are assuming a prominent role in public debates on nanotechnologies also by providing information to their members and the general public.