Potential health, environmental and societal impacts of nanotechnologies

25 November 2005

As part of its ongoing activities in nanotechnologies, the Royal Society held a workshop exploring the potential health, environmental and societal impacts of nanotechnologies jointly with the Science Council of Japan. The workshop was held in London on 11-12 July 2005 and was attended by nearly 50 academics, scientists and policy makers from the UK and Japan, and included representatives from the European Union and United States.

Attendees identified gaps in knowledge about the impact of nanomaterials on health and the environment which urgently require addressing and highlighted the need for international cooperation and collaboration.  There was also discussion on the importance of stakeholder and public engagement and its relation to public policy. The conclusions of the workshop echoed the findings of the Royal Society Royal Academy of Engineering report Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, published in 2004.

The report of the workshop summarises discussions at the meeting and highlights some relevant initiatives being undertaken in the European Union, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. The presentations from the workshop can be found below.

The UK Government will shortly be publishing its research programme in this area and we hope that this will describe how it plans to address the key points that arose from the workshop.