Regulating the unknown: Managing the occupational health risks of nanomedical technologies and nanopharmaceuticals in the research laboratory
Novel technologies and their resultant products demand fresh ways of thinking about pre-market risk analysis and post-market surveillance. A regulatory framework that is responsive to emerging knowledge about the hazards of novel technologies offers repeatable and transparent processes and remains economically and socially feasible. Workers are an especially vulnerable population who are exposed to unknown hazards of novel technologies and serve often as unwitting sentinels of impending risks. This Grounded Theory-based case study identifies gaps in our current ability to regulate novel technologies so as to minimize occupational health risks and offers necessary modifications for an environment that is conducive to proper regulation. Nanopharmaceuticals and the nano-based technologies at their base are used by way of exemplar technologies that are currently taxing the ability of the regulatory system to provide adequate oversight. Ambiguities of definition, absence of a tracking system (of who is doing nanotechnology research), and the paucity of scientific evidence to support risk management efforts are among the findings of the study and need to be addressed as ameliorative steps toward an effective regulatory structure.
0572: Pharmacy sciences
0573: Public health