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NIOSH Update:

NIOSH Informs, Leads Nanotechnology Actions by International Partner Organizations

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 245-0645
December 19, 2007

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided technical input, support, and leadership for three recent actions by international organizations to address the occupational safety and health implications of nanotechnology.

“Internationally, scientists and policymakers recognize that it is important to address the question of whether workers face a risk of job-related illnesses and injuries in the production and industrial use of nanomaterials,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are pleased that NIOSH has a key role in contributing to this world-wide scientific dialogue.”

Dr. Howard added, “NIOSH’s actions help to advance the research that is critical for incorporating safety and health into this advanced technology in its formative stages, developing consistent technical approaches internationally, and supporting U.S. leadership in the global market.”

The recent NIOSH contributions to the international research were these:

  • On November 29, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials agreed to establish a NIOSH-led project to 1) exchange information on measuring and controlling exposures to nanomaterials, and 2) develop suggestions for further steps by the working party. Representatives from 23 countries, the European Commission, business, labor, and environmental groups serve on the panel. Initially, the steering group for the project will focus on specific potential projects related to a goal of raising awareness about – and harmonizing approaches for – exposure measurement and mitigation in occupational settings. More information on the OECD effort is available at http://www.oecd.org/document/36/.
  • Meeting December 4-7, a project group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 229 voted to approve a draft report of safety and health practices in occupational settings relevant to nanotechnology. The draft report was based on NIOSH’s interim document, “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology,” and was developed with NIOSH leadership and participation on the project group. The draft report goes to the full technical committee for its review. The project group’s action signifies that technical work has been completed on the draft report, which is highly anticipated by the international community. More information about the ISO program is available at http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/
    iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=381983
    .
  • On December 2, NIOSH participated in a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Collaborating Centres in Occupational Health, focusing on nanotechnology. NIOSH staff provided input on the challenges that engineered nanoparticles pose for occupational safety and health. The objective of the meeting was to determine how the WHO Collaboration can develop and support research and cooperation in preventing exposure to potentially hazardous engineered nanoparticles. NIOSH currently is collaborating on five communication and networking projects with various WHO centers. More information about the Global Network partnerships can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/global/projects.html.
  • NIOSH conducts a strategic program of research on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. The research addresses key areas where new scientific information is critical for assessing potential occupational risks and developing effective guidance for controlling exposures. More information about the NIOSH research program is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/.

 

 
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