The regulation of chemical substances involves a negotiation between social actors to translate controversial scientific evidence about risks into legal norms. This chapter addresses the discussion elicited by a public consultation on a voluntary regulation guide on silver nanoparticles (AgNP) in workplaces. It examines the comments made from 2016 to 2018 by diverse social actors – business representatives, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and independent researchers – to two successive draft versions of a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) in working environments with AgNP. The REL is a voluntary guideline on permissible exposure limits elaborated by the NIOSH in the U.S. The methodology used was a qualitative content analysis, structured upon a historical and sociotechnical contextualization of nanotechnologies carried out through literature review. The findings show how different social actors position themselves in the controversy, revealing a pattern of behavior consistent with their position in the research, production, and commercialization of this new nanomaterial. While a group of actors, aligned with the interests of AgNP producers, proposed the restriction of mandatory and AgNP-specific regulation, another group of more heterogeneous actors, identified with the interests of workers and consumers, demanded more scientific and technical information and stricter health protection measures.
Part of the book: Silver Micro-Nanoparticles