Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the National Institute of Nanotechnology

By Bailey, Timothy C. | Health Law Review, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the National Institute of Nanotechnology


Bailey, Timothy C., Health Law Review


Nanotechnology is the application of science and engineering at the atomic scale. It is at this scale that novel optical, electrical and chemical properties can be observed. The greatest promise of nanotechnology is the diversity of fields that could benefit from its developments. For example, materials will be made stronger and considerably lighter with broad reaching impacts in manufacturing, construction and all forms of transportation. Manipulation at the nano-scale will lead to further miniaturization of electronics and information technologies. Within the biological sciences, nanotechnology will facilitate new methodologies for a greater understanding of biological systems. As such, there is already a great deal of development in targeted drug design, molecular imaging technologies, and non-invasive, precision cancer treatments. However, nanotechnology applications are not in the far off, distant future; currently there are over 275 "nano" products commercially available throughout the world. (1) These products range from sporting goods to stain-resistant fabrics.

From these few examples, it is evident that nanotechnology will likely have an immense impact on society at large. Indeed, it has been predicted that in less than a decade nanotechnology enabled applications will inject $1 trillion (USD) into the global economy and create 2 million new jobs. (2) As such, many of the world's nations are investing in nanotechnology (3) and Canada is no exception.

On June 22, 2006, the National Institute of Nanotechnology [NINT] held its grand opening at the University of Alberta [U of A]. NINT is a unique partnership between the province of Alberta, the U of A and the National Research Council [NRC]. The mission of NINT is to foster inter-disciplinary collaborations and to translate nanoscience into socially beneficial nanotechnologies.

We anticipate that the organizational structure of NINT will prove challenging to those at the helm. The NINT facility is owned by the U of A and leased to the NRC. …

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