Relative risk analysis of several manufactured nanomaterials: an insurance industry context.
A relative risk assessment is presented for the industrial fabrication of several nanomaterials. The production processes for five nanomaterials were selected for this analysis, based on their current or near-term potential for large-scale production and commercialization: single-walled carbon nanotubes, bucky balls (C60), one variety of quantum dots, alumoxane nanoparticles, and nano-titanium dioxide. The assessment focused on the activities surrounding the fabrication of nanomaterials, exclusive of any impacts or risks with the nanomaterials themselves. A representative synthesis method was selected for each nanomaterial based on its potential for scaleup. A list of input materials, output materials, and waste streams for each step of fabrication was developed and entered into a database that included key process characteristics such as temperature and pressure. The physical-chemical properties and quantities of the inventoried materials were used to assess relative risk based on factors such as volatility, carcinogenicity, flammability, toxicity, and persistence. These factors were first used to qualitatively rank risk, then combined using an actuarial protocol developed by the insurance industry for the purpose of calculating insurance premiums for chemical manufacturers. This protocol ranks three categories of risk relative to a 100 point scale (where 100 represents maximum risk): incident risk, normal operations risk, and latent contamination risk. Results from this analysis determined that relative environmental risk from manufacturing each of these five materials was comparatively low in relation to other common industrial manufacturing processes.
Robichaud, CO; Tanzil, D; Weilenmann, U; Wiesner, MR
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