NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals
EID1107 - Nanotechnology 10MStart Date: 10/1/2006
End Date: 9/30/2012
Principal Investigator (PI)Name: Charles Geraci
Funded By: NIOSH
Primary Goal Addressed5.0
Secondary Goals Addressed6.0 , 9.0
Attributed to Manufacturing100%
Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing area that has the potential to influence a large number of industrial processes and products in the manufacturing sector in the US. Worker exposure to nanomaterials, specifically free nanoparticles, represents the highest potential human exposure. The field studies conducted by this project will develop key information needed to develop guidance, training materials, and recommendations specific to workplace practices that control worker exposures. NIOSH will develop key stakeholder partnerships in the manufacturing sector to effectively disseminate the products of this project.
This project will continue the work of a nanotechnology field team created in FY 06 by the NIOSH Director. Nanotechnology is a rapidly expanding technology that has been described as having great potential impact on the global economy. The technology involves creating or engineering materials in the nanometer size range. Particles and materials in this size range exhibit new and often unique properties that have the potential to improve the performance of many existing products. Nanomaterials are being developed and produced in quantities ranging from research scale to commercial production. Little information has been produced about the handling and control of free nanoparticles in any of the processes involved. The NIOSH field team will follow a detailed process to characterize a range of different processes where nanomaterials are either produced or used. The field teal will consist of a senior Industrial Hygienist, with additional team member(s) added as needed. The field team will focus on the following: a general description of the process or processes involved in making or using the nanoparticle materials; a qualitative assessment of the process to identify potential employee exposure points; an evaluation of existing engineering controls, if any, and an assessment of their efficacy; a qualitative assessment of exposure using several different particle characterization instruments; an evaluation of the work practices used during the handling and processing of nanomaterials; a review and assessment of any personal protective equipment or respiratory protection in use and the rationale for its use; and, finally, a review of the overall health and safety program of the facility being visited to evaluate its effectiveness in supporting good nanomaterial handling practices. NIOSH will communicate this information back to the organization being visited and will them produce and disseminate educational information on current best practices for minimizing occupational exposure risks during the various phases of nanotechnology research, development, and production. The primary vehicle for disseminating this information will be the NIOSH “Approaches to Save Nanotechnology” document on the Institute’s web site. This approach provides an opportunity to present the latest information on nanotechnology and to provide customers a means to provide feedback, ask questions, and provide examples of work.
Nanotechnology, more specifically, the synthesis, manufacture and use of engineered nanomaterial, presents numerous challenges to the occupational safety and health profession. This new class of materials is being developed very rapidly and commercial applications are already in use. The potential hazards of these materials, however, have not been fully characterized and the resulting potential risk to workers is unknown. Addressing issues of hazard and risk at this stage in the development of the technology is critical if all the societal and economic benefits that are being identified are to be realized. A primary objective of this project is to obtain information from as many different facilities as possible, in the field, on the nature of engineered nanomaterials; the processes involved in their manufacture and use; potential worker exposures; and work practices and control procedures used where nanomaterials are produced or used. As toxicology studies identify the biologic hazards of nanomaterial, it is important to gain a better understanding of actual workplace exposures. Key issues to address specific to worker exposure are: measurement methods available for nanoparticles are not specific; lab-based methods are often not sensitive enough and lack specificity; determinants of exposure are unknown; and specific industrial processes used to manufacture or incorporate nanomaterials into products are not well characterized.