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The Path Towards Healthier Societies, Environments and Economies: A Broader Perspective for Sustainable Engineered Nanomaterials


Tolaymat, T., W. Abdelraheem, A. El Badawy, D. Dionysiou, AND A. Genaidy. The Path Towards Healthier Societies, Environments and Economies: A Broader Perspective for Sustainable Engineered Nanomaterials. Andreja Nemet, Petar Sabev Varbanov, Jir i´ Jaromi´r Klemes (ed.), CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 18(7):2279-2291, (2016).


The primary objective of this paper is to establish an integrated framework for assessing whether or not nanomaterials and nano-enabled products contribute VAB. The study objective is accomplished via the following specific aims: (1) to investigate the determinants of VAB and its relationship to sustainability within the context of ENMs and (2) to establish a sociotechnical framework with criteria to quantify the worthiness of ENM VAB based on cost-benefit analyses, non-physical factors, socio-economic factors, and ENM contribution to other product or process sustainability. The research questions raised in this paper are fundamental to the healthy growth of ENMs and nano-enabled products. Benefit-risk analyses are essential methods for the appraisal of nano-enabled products not only from economic standpoint but also from various perspectives including those mentioned above to advance the science of sustainable ENMs. Although the emphasis in this paper is on the sustainability of ENMs, it is believed that the concepts discussed herein are also applicable to other emerging technologies, materials, and chemicals. However, the application of the suggested sociotechnical system principles may require customization within and among the emerging technologies.


Economic value is no longer adequate by itself as a proxy for the value-added benefits (VAB) assumed to be generated by emerging technologies such as engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). This study was conducted to explore the potential to establish an integrated sociotechnical framework with the end goal to assess whether or not ENMs and nano-enabled products contribute VAB. Based on the research in this study, it is suggested that all stakeholders in the larger society-environment-economy (SEE) system should develop an understanding of the multiple interrelationships within and between the diverse constituents along the particle lifecycle trajectory to capture their influence on the system benefit and risk outcomes. Furthermore, the sociotechnical framework establishes an additional three-step process: (1) at the pre-design stage, the test of VAB should be assessed using an expert panel representing the different segments of SEE, the social principles of design are detailed and customized to the needs of ENMs and nano-enabled products, and an economic appraisal is conducted to justify the VAB on material grounds; (2) at the design stage, the technical principles should be examined and detailed to ensure the compatibility of stakeholder needs; and (3) an iterative adaptive cycle should be conducted to re-examine the sociotechnical principles on a periodic basis. Within this context, ENMs are considered sustainable when (a) the conditions of VAB and minimal risk elements are satisfied in a sequential order, with VAB demonstrated at the pre-design stage, then at the design stage ENMs posing no harm greater than minimal levels to the SEE constituents; and (b) ENMs and nano-enabled products are bounded by a finite time limit. In addition, to reach the conditions of sustainability, the role of all SEE stakeholders should be broadened (e.g., regulatory agencies should transform their roles from not only the control of risks of negative implications, but also the establishment of positive implications as well).

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 10/31/2016
Record Last Revised: 04/08/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 344678