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Potential liability for universities and university faculty researching emerging technologies at the nanoscale

Authors Mills PAS, Mills DK

Received 6 March 2017

Accepted for publication 29 April 2017

Published 7 July 2017 Volume 2017:7 Pages 1—11


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Bethany Spielman

Patrick AS Mills,1 David K Mills2

1OrganicNANO, Monroe, 2School of Biological Sciences, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA, USA

Abstract: In this article, an entrepreneur and a researcher discuss the potential short- and long-term liability concerns that may arise for both research institutions and research faculty involved in studying materials whose health risks due to periods of varied exposure are currently unknown. Particular attention is paid to the case of high aspect ratio nanoparticles (HARNs), which studies have demonstrated to be analogous to asbestos fibers. This article first examines the case of HARNs and establishes the danger inherent in persons working with such particles and in the consuming public. It then discusses the current law as established regulating the relationship between university students working in a research laboratory, supervising faculty, and university and current causes of action that have been established in tort for injured students. It considers scenarios that might arise out of emerging nanoscale research, using HARN particle research as an example, to discuss how liability might arise for research institutions and research faculty. Finally, the article concludes with suggestions for possible courses of action universities could take to protect themselves against this type of liability.

liability, nanotechnology, high aspect ratio nanoparticles, commercial development, nanoparticles, nanotoxicity

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