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Project team:

Fleischer, Torsten (Project leader); Jutta Jahnel; Stefanie Seitz


STOA (The Science Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament)

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:

Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung (ITA) der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna)

Research area:

Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description

The completed project deals with the potential environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks of manufactured particulate nanomaterials (MPN). Because of the great scientific uncertainties regarding their actual health and environmental effects and numerous methodological challenges to established risk assessment procedures (toxicology, exposure and hazard assessments, analytics, and others), risk management of MPN is confronted with serious challenges. However, risk management is a prerequisite for risk governance employing the precautionary principle that is demanded by a number of stakeholders and parts of the general public.

Risk governance under uncertainty raises fundamental political questions of how policy makers should regulate risk in the face of scientific uncertainties. To explore this issue in greater detail, the project focused on two important perspectives of regulation: Risk management strategies for MPN as discussed or proposed for the EU or its member states, and risk communication problems and needs for EHS risks of MPN.

The project reviewed the state of the art in hazard assessment of MPN and identified open questions of the risk assessment of MPN. Further, current legislative activities at the EU level regarding EHS risk regulation of MPN and their challenges and implications were discussed. This included considerations about scope and limitations of as well as semantic differentiation in definitions and regulatory instruments (hard and soft law). Moreover, the project addressed the question which perceptions and expectations concerning EHS risk communication of MPN can be found in the general public. A discursive method was used in an empirical module to explore those expectations.

Findings of the project were reported to the MEPs of the STOA panel of the European Parliament in several project reports. The final workshop took place in the European Parliament in Brussels on 21.11.2011.

The final report was published in 2012 by STOA:

Fleischer, T.; Jahnel, J.; Seitz, S.B.
NanoSafety - risk governance of manufactured nanoparticles. Final report. Brüssel: European Parliament, STOA 2012, Contract No. IP/A/STOA/FWC/2008-096/LOT5/C1/SC3



Dipl.-Phys. Torsten Fleischer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24571