From the science, technology, and society (STS) perspective, this paper examines the “knowledge gridlock” problems of environmental research related to the Taiwan high-tech clusters. Inspired by STS studies, this research focuses on analyzing the limitation of current scientific research in detecting the hazardous substances emitted by the electronics industry. Referring to the “different types of unknowns” concept proposed by Gross (2007) and the “undone science” discussions made by Hess (2007), we paid special attention to the conditions that restrain the knowledge production of regulatory science. Through reviews of the scientific reports and interviews with the environmental scientists who had conducted studies on high-tech pollutant emissions, this paper tries to map out the limitations of the current knowledge production system in identifying the risks of hazards and the link of the pollutants detected to the source of the pollutions. The results of our study indicate that inadequate environmental regulations have paradoxically reversed the process to render high-tech pollution studies almost useless. Such studies cannot truly respond to the health risks or environmental hazard concerns, and the regulatory science remains in a contradicting state. In other words, monitoring or research conducted according to regulations cannot satisfy the mission of regulatory science on pollution prevention. This study points out that the inherent social character of regulatory science as well as the its passive and closed social embeddedness has restricted the accessibility of the regulatory science findings to only the few academic labs, the government authorities, and the manufacturers. The environmental regulation policies promoted by these research findings or surveys are highly closed and lack social discussion. This undisclosed and conservative nature obstructs the progress of regulatory science and deprives the community members of their right to know. The discussions of this paper aim to increase our understanding of “undone science’ and “ignorance” in Asian electronics manufacturing sectors. This paper suggests government organizations and scientific communities to adopt more open and pluralistic approaches to break through the barriers between scientific research and public participation, and further overcome the predicaments of environmental information and knowledge production monopoly.
the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies (ISSN 2329-9169), pp.1-7