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Progress toward safe nanotechnology in the workplace: a report from the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center (Revised).

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-123, 2007 Jun; :1-177
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death. As such, NIOSH is active in (1) identifying critical issues related to possible health hazards of nanomaterials, (2) protecting the safety and health of workers involved in this emerging technology, and (3) implementing a strategic plan to develop and disseminate methods to safely advance the technology, through workplace controls and safe handling procedures, as well as investigating the possible applications of nanotechnology to solve workplace health and safety issues. Because of their small size and large surface area, engineered nanoparticles may have chemical, physical, and biological properties distinctly different than larger particles of similar chemical composition. Those properties may include the ability to: reach the gas exchange regions of the lung; travel from the lung throughout the body; penetrate dermal barriers; cross cell membranes; and interact at the molecular level. NIOSH is investigating all of these properties, as it would with any new technology or material in the workplace to provide the necessary guidance to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. NIOSH is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act to determine whether materials in a workplace may constitute any harm and to provide recommendations for preventing injury and illness. NIOSH is taking the first steps in assessing potential hazards of various types of nanoparticles by attempting to understand mechanisms of action of nanoparticles in living systems and assessing potential risks to workers. This research is being conducted by the Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC). Budgetary constraints have made a more comprehensive research program specific to nanomaterials difficult to implement. Even with the budgetary constraints, NIOSH investigators have laid the foundation for an evidence-based strategy for providing safe nanotechnology in the workplace. This effort is consistent with the guidance from the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that nanotechnology research leads to the responsible development of beneficial applications, high priority should be given to research on societal implications, human health, and environmental issues related to nanotechnology and to develop, where applicable, cross-agency approaches to the funding and execution of this research. Because of its mission and the active program of research it has started, NIOSH has been identified as a lead agency in several high priority areas by the Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) working group within the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).
Occupational-safety-programs; Worker-health; Disease-prevention; Injury-prevention; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-research; Chemical-properties; Physical-properties; Biological-factors; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Molecular-structure; Lung-function; Cellular-function; Cellular-reactions; Particulates; Nanotechnology
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Information Division, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
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DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-123
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Manufacturing; Healthcare and Social Assistance
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division