NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals
927ZJLRa - Engineering Controls for Nanomaterial Handling (NTRC)Start Date: 10/1/2009
End Date: 9/30/2012
Principal Investigator (PI)Name: Li Ming Lo
Funded By: NIOSH
Primary Goals Addressed5.0 , 9.0
Secondary Goal AddressedNone
Attributed to Manufacturing100%
This project intends to evaluate the performance of real-world engineering controls for CNTs or other nanomaterials in the aerosol phase to lower the potential risks to workers. We will focus on the exposure assessment of both SWCNTs and MWCNTs in either unpurified or purified forms during manufacturing and handling processes. We first need to identify the specific tasks and processes that likely produce the highest exposures during CNT handling. The effectiveness of practical engineering controls will be evaluated in both the laboratory and the field. Other measurement metrics including particle number and surface area concentration will also be collected to evaluate control effectiveness. Ultimately, the guidance developed from this project should provide recommendations for selecting optimum controls for specific nanomaterial handling processes.
The project design is based on a one-year field study of extensive data collection for exposure to CNT manufacturing and handling, and a two-year laboratory study to develop guidance for safely handling nanomaterials and optimum use of engineering controls to lower nanoparticle exposure in the workplace. The field investigation will be performed in appropriate sites based on the criteria such as production scale, specific tasks, and engineering controls used in facilities to reduce CNT emission. To evaluate exposure risk, exposure assessment is expected to determine biologically relevant exposure for individual workers. Since current toxicological research has not reached agreement on the most relevant dose-metric for exposure to nanoparticles, we will collect different metrics including number, surface area, and mass concentrations, and particle morphology. This extensive investigation will allow us to understand workplace processes and factors that determine and influence exposure to nanomaterials. In this study, we will also focus on the controls and their effectiveness.
The overall objective of this project is to develop guidance for engineering controls for CNTs during manufacturing and handling in the workplace. The comprehensive guidance is also expected to be applicable to other nanomaterials being handled in the aerosol phase. The proposed research consists of a field evaluation and a laboratory study. The field evaluation helps us collect comprehensive data for developing initial guidance and estimating existing exposure levels. The laboratory study can systematically evaluate the effect of different controls on specific tasks to provide complete guidance for optimizing the control of nanomaterials in the workplace.
The evaluation of the effectiveness of controls and development of guidance for controlling hazards associated with CNTs and other nanomaterials is one of three priorities for NIOSH NTRC research efforts. However, to date there are no regulations that respond to an increased awareness of the potential health risks caused by nanomaterials. There are only general guidelines for reducing exposures while handling nanomaterials available, but they are mainly based on conventional safe practices for handling chemicals.