Potential Risks

Explains the risks to society and the environment with applicable citations and research. This summary may detail risks associated with the production, distribution, use, and disposal of nanotechnological products or applications[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].


• Toxic chemicals used in production or as a component of a nanomaterial.

• Unexpected risks from common elements behaving differently at the nanoparticle scale.

• Emergent behavior of artificial organs, modified viruses & bacteria, and brain modification or interface technologies.

• Nano-engineering in agriculture, or food processing.

• Chemical contamination of environments, or ecological systems.

Potential Risk Profiles

Each Risk Characterization should be assessed and properly referenced to a suitable source for further research, allowing other researchers to verify the Potential Risk Summary, and correct or modify if needed.

Risk Characterization

Risk characterization differentiates states of knowledge about each particular risk, distinguishing between “simple, “complex”, “uncertain” and “ambiguous” risk problems[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

• Simple Risk refers to products where there is a clear cause and effect connection to behavior of materials and their implications[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

• Complex Risk refers to the difficulty in identifying and quantifying causal links between a multitude of causal agents and specific observed effects in a system[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

• Uncertain Risk refers to human knowledge being incomplete and the inability to perfectly predict effects with the variability of nanoapplications in the environment[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

• Ambiguous Risk refers to where the behavior of materials does not seem to have a negative effect, despite that behavior being considered dangerous[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment differentiates risks into risks related to “penetration into and reaction with the human body; release into and reaction with human surroundings (e.g. Work place, environment, and on disposal); changes in degradability and persistence in the environment; and longer term societal issues such as, social control and nanoscale-based genetic changes”. Finally they use four categories: health risks; risk of changing human condition; risk of explosion; and ecological risks[springerlink:10.1007/s11051-006-9092-7].

Health Risks

• Human Condition Risks

• Explosive Risks

• Ecological Risks