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The Rewards and Risks of Nanotechnology for Businesses

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The Rewards and Risks of Nanotechnology for Businesses

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  1. The Rewards and Risks of Nanotechnology for Businesses Wisconsin State Legislature September 30, 2010 Jennifer Wolf Horejsh

  2. Nanotechnology Basics A nanoparticle is 1/80,000 the size of a human hair. Nanoparticles are used to create new structures and products that behave differently. Nanoparticles exist in nature, but our ability to manipulate them is a new field of study.

  3. “The advent of nanotechnology is considered to be the biggest innovation since the Industrial Revolution” Gwinn & Vallythan, December 2006

  4. Nanotechnology and Business • Nanoparticles are used in a wide range of industries: • The National Science Foundation (Roco, 2005) estimates that the worldwide market for nanotechnology products will reach $1 trillion by 2015.

  5. Health and Safety Impacts of Nanomaterials • Absorption through the skin; • Inhalation: nanoparticles can enter the bloodstream through the lungs; • Ingestion • Nanoparticles can pass through the blood/brain barrier • Not easily filtered

  6. Exposures from the Insurance Perspective • Insurers and Reinsurers are in the business of managing risk, and are thus monitoring developments in the nanotechnology industry. • Insurance exposures include: • Products liability • Workers’ compensation • Environmental impairment • Professional liability

  7. Workers’ Compensation • If it was clear there was bodily harm to a worker from exposure to nanoparticles, it would be a compensable claim; • No state would allow exclusions for workers who were injured from exposure to engineered nano particles; • The challenge for initial claims would be showing a causation link between the injury/illness and exposure to nano particles in the workplace.

  8. Other Liability Insurance • Our research indicates that the P&C industry is supportive of nanotechnology and is not interested in exclusionary endorsements; • It appears likely that ISO will be announcing the establishment of two new class codes for setting lost costs for the manufacture and distribution of nano materials; • Several insurers seem to be eager to attract applicants from the nanotechnology industry.

  9. Potential Insurance Barriers • Limited experience with the science and engineering of nanotechnology; • Few studies of human exposures; • No human toxological or epidemiological studies; • Currently, there are no methods for measuring and classifying risks.

  10. The New Asbestos? • There have been many comparisons of nano materials to asbestos. • Long latency period before discovery of damage • Ease of pulmonary entry • Research has shown that carbon nanotubes in rat lungs produced cancer-like damage; • No current research that shows the health implications of nano material exposure in humans.

  11. Furthering Development in the Industry WI can do almost nothing from a regulatory perspective, health, safety, and environmental regulation will come from the federal government; Registry of companies who produce and utilize nanoparticles. Utilizing the Wisconsin Safety Council to provide educational programming on health and safety issues relating to nano materials.

  12. Resources National Nanotechnology Initiative Nanotechnology Small matter, many unknowns (Swiss RE report) OECD Database on Research into the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials

  13. Resources (continued) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – Nanotechnology at NIOSH Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace

  14. Thank You Jennifer Wolf Gregory C. Krohm