'Honest, open and transparent' conversations about nanotechnology are necessary for public understanding and acceptance finds the report, Understanding public perceptions of specific applications of nanotechnologies (Link auto-downloads PDF report), whose final version was published by the UK government last month. The report was the result of numerous in-depth dialogues and workshops with UK citizens to better understand how they perceive the risk and benefits of nanotechnologies. The exercise focused on four specific technologies, -- fuel additives, paints/coatings, land remediation and sunscreen -- to provide a more tangible exploration of nano-applications.
The authors found this product-specific approach was extremely successful in producing new insights that moved beyond nanotechnology as a broad class of chemicals. The report provides a new understanding of how consumers weigh risks and benefits when faced with specific applications and where they receive the information necessary for those judgments. The authors also discovered a strong feeling amongst participants that nanotechnologies can provide value in tackling major problems, such as antimicrobial resistance or pollution, and contribute to economic growth, as long as policymakers and regulators play an integral role.