Nanotech Conference to Examine Workplace Risks, Benefits, Regs, More

The National Science Foundation's Center for Nanotechnology in Society, housed at UC Santa Barbara (CNS-UCSB), will host a major conference on health and safety in laboratories and industrial workplaces employing nanotechnology. The conference--"Nanotechnology and Occupational Health and Safety"--will be held Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday, Nov. 17 and is being organized jointly by CNS-UCSB; Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program; UCLA's Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health and International Science, Technology, and Cultural Policy; and UC Lead Campus for NanoToxicology Research and Training.

Held at UCSB's Corwin Pavilion in Santa Barbara, Calif., the conference will bring together social scientists, economists, union leaders, human resource managers, media, public policy officials, industry and insurance companies, NGOs, nanotoxicologists, industrial hygienists, and nanoscale scientists to examine issues related to potential risks for nanotechnology researchers and workers, and ways to limit those risks. The Friday and Saturday events are free and open to the public. Registration is required and available online at

A major objective of the conference will be to initiate a conversation on these issues between specialists and practitioners. The unifying theme is that labor and management should pay close attention to the new technology and scientific evidence about its risks; and that the scientific community should be aware of workplace concerns and the history of occupational health and safety issues that have been important with past technologies. The conference will include reports on the experience of previous technologies where this message was not fully appreciated.

The three-day conference will include six sessions:

  • What is Nanotechnology and What are the Workplace and Laboratory Risks?
  • Present and Future of Nanoparticle Risk Measurement
  • Lessons of History and Aspects of Workplace Risks
  • Current Regulatory Framework: What Would Informed Policy Approaches Look Like?
  • The Global Context and
  • Benefits Enhancement and Risk Reduction

The keynote address will be delivered by Joan Denton, Director of the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

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