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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

921ZFEX - Nanotechnology Field Studies

Start Date: 10/1/2008
End Date: 10/30/2010

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Charles Geraci
Phone: 513-533-8339
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: EID
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goals Addressed
5.0, 6.0

Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

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. The findings from the field team will also support the development and publishing a Current Intelligence Bulletin on Working with Engineered Nanomaterials, which will present NIOSH's current knowledge and recommendations on health effects, exposure limits, exposure monitoring, PPE, respiratory protection, and engineering controls. This information will also be valuable to secondary users of nanomaterials who may not be producing the materials but are incorporating them into existing products. In addition to materials developed by NIOSH, partnerships with Universities and businesses will continue to be developed to conduct field assessments and incorporate their findings. This project will effect a direct translation of research into practice by communicating NIOSH research and field observations into practice by developing information documents and training tools. The time frame for this project extends into FY12 because it will be the primary means to communicate NIOSH field evaluation research results to the nanotechnology industry and to maintain an active dialogue with that community.


The goal of his project is to answer questions and remove uncertainties associated with the manufacture and introduction of engineered nanomaterials into the workplace. To accomplish that goal, this project will continue and expand the work started in FY 06 by the NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team. Specifically, this project will focus on collaborating with companies, universities and government laboratories who are involved in research, development and production of nanomaterials. The first objective is to conduct at least two field studies in each of the major nanotechnology business segments: metal oxide particles; organic particles (C60 Fullerenes, carbon nanotubes), quantum dots, nanoelectronics, nanopharmaceuticals, and others. The second objective is to convert observations and data obtained from the field investigations into guidelines and recommended practices for the safe and responsible development of nanotechnology processes and products. The impact of this project will be measured by the extent to which NIOSH recommended practices are implemented by organizations engaged in the research, development, production, or use of nanomaterials. Data on the extent of implementation will be gathered through partnerships in the industry and with academia.