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NIOSH Draft Offers Interim Guidance on Medical Screening of Workers Potentially Exposed to Engineered Nanoparticles

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Christina Bowles (202) 245-0633
December 13, 2007

Today, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued interim guidance concerning the medical screening of workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles in the manufacture and industrial use of nanomaterials. The document is posted on the NIOSH web page at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/review/public/115/.

Because the topic has not been extensively discussed in the scientific literature, NIOSH has developed this guidance to generate discussion, fill the current knowledge gap, and provide interim recommendations until further scientific information becomes available. Additionally, NIOSH is seeking comments on the strengths and weaknesses of exposure registries for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles.

NIOSH will continue to examine the scientific evidence and periodically update its guidance on medical screening. Until more is understood about the potential occupational hazards of exposure to engineered nanoparticles, NIOSH recommends the following for workplaces where a potential exposure may occur:

  • take practical measures to control exposures,
  • conduct hazard surveillance as a basis for implementing controls, and
  • consider implementing established medical surveillance approaches to help assess whether controls are effective.

Engineered nanoparticles are materials with at least one dimension smaller than 100 nanometers, and are produced through controlling and manipulating matter at the near-atomic scale (nanotechnology). These particles often exhibit unique properties that may affect their physical, chemical, and biological behaviors. Preliminary research has raised concerns regarding the potential for adverse health effects related to occupational exposure to engineered nanoparticles. However, insufficient scientific and medical evidence currently exists to recommend, at this time, specific medical screening tests for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles.

To provide feedback, mail written comments to NIOSH Docket Office, Robert A. Taft Laboratories, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS C-34, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226. Submit electronic comments as Microsoft Word files to nioshdocket@cdc.gov. Please reference docket number NIOSH-115 when providing comments. All public comments must be postmarked by February 15, 2008. The document “Interim Guidance for the Medical Screening of Workers Potentially Exposed to Engineered Nanoparticles” can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/review/public/115, along with additional information about this invitation for public comment.

NIOSH is the Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for preventing work-related injury and illness, and is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about NIOSH or its nanotechnology research program, visit the NIOSH Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/.

 
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