Adverse effects of Nanotechnology [Mechanical engineering]

Adverse effects of Nanotechnology

Awareness on adverse effects of nanotechnology increases negative perception among public: survey study from Singapore

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Abstract

As has been demonstrated by recent societal controversies associated with the introduction of novel technologies, societal acceptance of a technology and its applications is shaped by consumers’ perceived risks and benefits. The research reported here investigates public perceptions of nanotechnology in Singapore, where technological innovation is an established part of the economy, and it might be expected that consumer perceptions of risk are low, and those of benefit are high. The contribution of socio-demographic variables, knowledge level and exposure to risk information in shaping risk perception about nanotechnology applications within different application sectors were analysed. About ~80 % of respondents have some understanding of nanotechnology, 60 % report having heard some negative information, and 39 % perceive nanotechnology as beneficial, while 27.5 % perceive it as risky. Nanotechnology application in food was reported to cause the most concern in the consumers included in the sample. Two-step cluster analysis of the data enabled grouping of respondents into those who expressed ‘less concern’ or ‘more concern’ based on their average scores for concern levels expressed with applications of nanotechnology in different sectors. Profiling of these clusters revealed that, apart from various socio-demographic factors, exposure to risk-related information, rather than awareness in nanotechnology itself, resulted in respondents expressing greater concern about nanotechnology applications. The results provide evidence upon which regulatory agencies and industries can base policies regarding informed risk–benefit communication and management associated with the introduction of commercial applications of nanotechnology.

Keywords

Nanotechnology Consumer attitudes Risk–benefit perception Societal implications Singapore


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