A high-profile occupational health and safety attorney was interviewed yesterday on ABC Local Radio in Australia regarding potential workplace safety risks accompanying exposure to certain nanoscale materials in some circumstances.

The reporter conducting the interview evidently led off the radio report by stating that "[t]o one of the nation’s leading work safety lawyers, the nanotechnology industry represents a ticking time bomb." 

Not good . . .

The attorney apparently then advised that "employers at the moment may be unaware of the extent of the potential liability sometime down the track.   . . . We could be facing another epidemic in our industrial history of people, large groups of people, displaying latent symptoms from current exposures that are taking place at the moment. . . . We just don’t have a clue as to what the long-term impact of the use of that technology will have.  . . . . You can see the dilemma here.  It’s not necessarily that the zinc product using nanotechnology is necessarily harmful, we just simply don’t know."

Personally, I would not jump from "we don’t know" to "ticking time bomb" and/or "epidemic."  Readers can find the transcript from the radio program here.

We recently posted about concerns voiced by Australian labor unions regarding potential workplace exposure to nanoscale materials.  The ABC Radio Australia interview will no doubt add more fuel to this fire.