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NANOTECHNOLOGY

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Nanotechnology at NIOSH

NIOSH is the leading federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. Given the rapid growth and global reach of nanotechnology, NIOSH established the Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) in 2004 to identify critical issues, create a strategic plan for investigating these issues, coordinate the NIOSH research effort, develop research partnerships, and disseminate information gained. The NTRC is comprised on nanotechnogy-related activities and projects consisting of and supported by a diverse group of scientists from various NIOSH divisions and laboratories.

The five NIOSH NTRC strategic goals are to:
  • Increase understanding of new hazards and related health risks to nanomaterial workers.
  • Expand understanding of the initial hazard findings of engineered nanomaterials.
  • Support the creation of guidance materials to inform nanomaterial workers, employers, health professionals, regulatory agencies, and decision-makers about hazards, risks, and risk management approaches.
  • Support epidemiologic studies for nanomaterial workers, including medical, cross-sectional, prospective cohort, and exposure studies.
  • Assess and promote national and international adherence with risk management guidance.

NIOSH has identified 10 critical topic areas to address knowledge gaps, develop strategies, and provide recommendations. Each topic provides a brief description of the research that NIOSH is conducting in that particular area of nanotechnology.

NIOSH has also created a field studies team to assess workplace processes, materials, and control technologies associated with nanotechnology. Research laboratories, producers and manufacturers working with engineered nanomaterials have the opportunity to participate in a cost-free, on-site assessment.

Much research is still needed to understand the impact of nanotechnology on health, and to determine appropriate exposure monitoring and control strategies. At this time, the limited evidence available suggests caution when potential exposures to free–unbound nanoparticles may occur.

 
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