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Nanotechnology: Small matter, many unknowns

The insurance industry trades in risk, and therefore has a vested interest in assessing the risks connected to emerging technologies. This report presents an overview by the leading insurance company Swiss Re. It assesses the range of risks to human health and the environment posed by nanotechnology and the implications for insurance.

The report says that the unknown risks of toxicity and pollution associated with nanotechnology are unacceptable. Swiss Re is concerned nanotechnology may follow the same route as asbestos, a product that was used chiefly in construction materials for many years, posing great risks to human health and the environment, before the real scale of its toxicity was revealed.

The report's appendices summarise potential applications for nanotechnology in the fields of information technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals and energy processing. The full text of the report is only available in pdf format.

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