Nicholas Ashford

Professor of Technology and Policy

Nicholas Ashford is professor of technology and policy where he teaches courses in environmental law, policy, and economics; law, technology, and public policy; and technology, globalization, and sustainable development. He is director of the Technology and Law Program at MIT. Dr. Ashford is affiliated with the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center (SSRC), the Institute for Work and Employment Research in the Sloan School of Management, and the Environmental Policy and Planning Group in the Urban Studies Department. He holds both a Ph.D. in chemistry and a law degree from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ashford is also visiting scientist in occupational and environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Additionally, he teaches courses in sustainable development and european & international environmental law at Cambridge University and the Cyprus University of Technology.

Dr. Ashford was a public member and chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health, served on the EPA Science Advisory Board, and was chairman of the Committee on Technology Innovation & Economics of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. Dr. Ashford is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former chair of its section on societal impacts of science and engineering. He served as an advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme and is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Cleaner Production, the Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, the Journal of Environmental Policy & Governance, and Environmental Innovation & Societal Transitions. He served as co-chair of the U.S.-Greece Council for the Initiative on Technology Cooperation with the Balkans.

Dr. Ashford's research interests include sustainability, trade and environment; regulatory law and economics; the design of government policies for encouraging both technological innovation, and improvements in health, safety, and environmental quality; pollution prevention and cleaner/inherently safer production; labor's participation in technological change; and environmental justice. He has developed methodologies for decision-making in the regulation of chemicals and has extensively investigated the effects of regulation on technological innovation in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and automobile industries. Dr. Ashford's research includes work for the United Nations Environment Programme, the OECD, and the European Union, as well as for U.S. regulatory agencies and the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment. He has also published several hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.


Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State, Yale University Press, 2011.

Environmental Law, Policy and Economics: Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda, MIT Press, 2008.

Public Participation in Contaminated Communities, 2001.

Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes, John Wiley Press, second edition, 1998.

Technology, Law and the Working Environment, Island Press, second edition, 1996.

Monitoring the Worker for Exposure and Disease, John Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Asford, Nicholas A., and Charles C. Caldert. “Government Regulation of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety in the United States and the European Union,” in Occupational and Environmental Health: Recognizing and Preventing Disease and Injury, 6th ed. Barry S. Levy, David H. Wegman, Rosie Sokas, and Sherry Baron (eds.), Oxford University Press 2010.

The Legacy of The Precautionary Principle In U.S. Law: The Rise of Cost–Benefit Analysis and Risk Assessment as Undermining Factors in Health, Safety and Environmental Protection,” in Nicolas de Sadeleer (ed.), Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Approaches from the Nordic Countries, the EU and USA, Earthscan: London, 2007.

Ashford, Nicholas A., and Charles C. Caldert. “Negotiated Regulation, Implementation and Compliance in the United States,” in The Handbook of Environmental Voluntary Agreements, Euoardo Croci (ed.), Dordrecht, Springer – Environmental and Policy Series, 2005 (43): 135-159.

Miller, C.S., and N.A. Ashford. "Multiple Chemical Intolerance and Indoor Air Quality," in Indoor Air Quality Handbook, J. Spengler, J. M. Samet, and J. F. McCarthy (eds.), McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000, chapter 27, 32 pages. 

Ashford, N.A., and R.P. Hall. “The Importance of Regulation-Induced Innovation for Sustainable Development.” Sustainability, 3(1): 270-292, 2011.

Koch, Lars, and Nicholas A. Ashford. “Rethinking the Role of Information in Chemicals Policy: Implications for TSCA and REACH.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 14(1): 31–46, 2006. Revised version published in Environmental Law Network International 2(2005): 22–37.

Scientific, Ethical and Legal Challenges in Work-Related Genetic Testing in the United States.” Eur. J. Oncol. Library, 4:33-59, 2005.

Epstein, S.S., N. A. Ashford, B. Blackwelder, G. Cohen, E. Goldsmith, A. Mazzocchi, and Q. D. Young. “The Crisis in U.S. and International Cancer Policy.” International Journal of Health Services, 32(4): 669-707, 2002.

"Low-level Chemical Sensitivity: Current Perspectives." International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 68: 367-376, 1996.

"Monitoring the Worker and the Community for Chemical Exposure and Disease: Legal and Ethical Considerations in the U.S." Clinical Chemistry, 40/7B Supplement, pp. 1426-1437, July 1994.

Ashford, Nicholas A., William C. Ryan, and Charles C. Caldart. "Law and Science Policy in Federal Regulation of Formaldehyde," in Science, 25 November 1983, vol. 222, pp. 894-900.