Research on nanotechnology regulation has been highlighted in key government reports and the Government's Nanotechnology Strategy, and led to the development of the industry standard PAS 137.

Impacts

  • The Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) report was commended by the Council for Science and Technology, mentioned in key government reports and highlighted in the Government's Nanotechnology Strategy (2010)
  • The report was published by the Office of Science and Innovation and formed the basis of several papers, including one for Law Innovation and Technology 2010
  • On the basis of the research, BRASS has provided evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the use of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials in the food sector
  • BRASS has been commissioned by DEFRA to research the role of corporate social responsibility within the nanotechnologies industry as a means of regulating potential impacts on human health and the environment
  • BRASS has been appointed to represent the UK in an international project for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to examine public policy issues surrounding business investment in nanotechnology
  • Based on the research, BRASS has developed a standard with British Standards Institute (PAS 137) offering regulatory guidance for British Industry.

About the research

Nanotechnologies – tiny devices and systems designed at the nanoscale - are developing so fast that regulation of them has been struggling to keep up. In recent years there have been growing fears about the potential risks to human health and the environment from nanotechnology.

In response to this, the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) was commissioned in 2006 by the Department of Trade and Industry to analyse current and future applications of nanomaterials against existing regulatory regimes in the United Kingdom and the EU.

The project arose out of information gaps and uncertainties relating to the potential harmful effects of nanomaterials, and concerns for consumer and environmental protection. BRASS looked at how the development, manufacture, supply, use and disposal of nanomaterials are controlled.

The final report An Overview of the Framework of Current Regulation Affecting the Development and Marketing of Nanomaterials was published on the Department of Trade and Industry's website in December 2006, and has already had significant academic and policy impact.