CNS-UCSB To Host Conference On Occupational Health and Safety in Nanotech Labs and Industries

The National Science Foundation’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS-UCSB), housed at UC Santa Barbara, will host a major conference on health and safety in laboratories and industrial workplaces employing nanotechnology. The conference, which will be held Thursday, November 15 – Saturday, November 17, 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.

This conference, “Nanotechnology and Occupational Health and Safety,” will bring together social scientists, economists, union leaders, human resource managers, media, public policy officials, industry and insurance companies, NGOs, nanotoxicologists and industrial hygienists, and nanoscale scientists to examine issues related to potential risks for nanotechnology researchers and workers, and ways to limit those risks.  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 full 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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