Nanoteknologi i Forbrugerprodukter: Sikkerhed og Ansvar

Lisbeth Lindgaard Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Nanotechnology has truly found its way into consumer products without either producers or authorities are aware of the exact risk. However both producers and authorities are aware that there might be a potential health risk in using nanomaterials in consumer products, but in the absence of precise knowledge about the risk, nanotech products in great extend gain access to the market and there are yet no exact requirements these products should meet at the present moment. This thesis will examine whether the existing legislation can accommodate the uncertainties concerning nanotechnology. The relevant aspects from the public law and the private law, mainly concerning product safety and product liability, are analyzed. The legislation regarding product safety seems to be too general and even though a nanobased product might not be a safe product, it is difficult to enforce the law. Because of the particles’ very small size, the authorities have little opportunity to monitor these products, and it leaves no incentives to self control among producers. The legislation regarding product liability is based on strict liability. The consequences of repeated use of a product containing nanomaterials may be cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These diseases are frequently occurring in the population and it may occur for other reasons. It causes problems in relation to establish a causal link between damage and product, which is a condition for a producer to incur liability. If producers do not fear sanctions for their actions, or if there are none, they will not exhibit the proper care. Economic theory says that the law is able to create incentives to take care, if designed properly. As the legislation is designed, concerning product safety and liability, it is too general and too weak and it does not contribute to an adequate level of care. In a risky area with many uncertainties like this, the level of care is best controlled by ex ante incentives. If it is possible to create sufficient incentives through the legislation, a great part of the risk regarding non tested chemicals and substances can be eliminated. Nanotechnology could be a complex new hazard in thousands of consumer products, which might mean that the current legislation needs to be modified.

EducationsMSc in Commercial Law, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages88