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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927Z4QG - Nanotechnology Field Evaluations

Start Date: 10/1/2006
End Date: 9/30/2012

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Mark Methner
Phone: 513-841-4325
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: EID
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goals Addressed
6.0, 9.0

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.

This project gathers process information and potential exposure data that are routinely used to update the Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology web page document. Also publication in peer-reviewed journals serves to communicate research findings from the field team to the occupational hygiene 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.

Mission Relevance

This project supports the NIOSH mission of creating knowledge and converting it into practice, r2p. A primary objective of this project is to obtain information from the field on the nature of materials, processes, potential worker exposures, work practices and control procedures used where nanomaterials are produced or used. The information obtained by the field team supported by this project will be shared with the nanotechnology industry and will be used by NIOSH to update the guidance documents that appear on the Nanotechnology Topic Page. Sharing knowledge on safe handling procedures for the various levels of production and the different tasks involved will help minimize any potential risk associated with these new materials. NIOSH will produce educational materials that will provide information on potential health hazards, recommended control measures, and guidance on personal protective equipment. One of the key features of the web page will be the ability by readers to post case studies and enter into a dialogue with NIOSH on various nanotechnology topics.

This project supports the following goals:

Sector Program



Strategic Goal 5: Reduce the number of respiratory conditions and diseases due to exposures in the manufacturing sector.


Strategic Goal 6: Reduce the prevalence of cancer due to exposures in the manufacturing sector.

Cross Sector Health Outcome Programs

Cancer, Reproductive, and Cardiovascular Diseases

Strategic Goal 1 (09PPCRCSG1): Reduce the incidence and mortality of work related cancer

Strategic Goal 3 (09PPCRCSG3): Reduce the incidence and mortality of work related cardiovascular disease


Strategic Goal 4 (09PPCRCSG4): Reduce the incidence and mortality of other chronic diseases, including (but not limited to), work-related neurologic (including cerebrovascular) and renal disease.

Respiratory Diseases


Strategic Goal 1: Prevent and reduce work-related airways diseases.


Strategic Goal 2: Prevent and reduce work-related interstitial lung diseases.


Strategic Goal 5: Prevent respiratory and other diseases potentially resulting from occupational exposures to nanomaterials.

Intermediate Goal (09PPRDRIG5.2): characterize respiratory exposures and measures used to reduce exposures, including engineering controls and respiratory protection, in work settings where engineered nanomaterials are produced or used.

Activity/Output Goal (09PPRDRAOG5.2.1): develop partnerships and conduct field evaluations of facilities where nanomaterials are produced or used.

Intermediate Goal (09PPRDRIG5.3): develop guidance for facilities that produce or use nanomaterials.

Activity/Output Goal (09PPRDRAOG5.3.1): complete guidance documents on medical surveillance and use of control banding in facilities where nanomaterials are produced or used.

Other Cross-Sector Programs

Authoritative Recommendations


Strategic Goal 1: Reduce and prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by supporting NORA sector and cross-sector programs in the development of authoritative recommendations.

Communications and Information Dissemination


Strategic Goal 3: Develop and sustain 20 new strategic partnerships and collaborations to assist the dissemination, diffusion and evaluation of NIOSH scientific information products.

Exposure Assessment


Strategic Goal 1: Develop or improve exposure assessment strategies to understand and prevent work-related illnesses and injuries.



Strategic Goal 1: Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Intermediate Goal 1.1 (09PPNAN1G1.1) Fate of nanomaterials in the work environment. Determine the key factors influencing the generation, dispersion, deposition, and re-entrainment of nanomaterials in the workplace, including the role of mixed exposures.

Performance Measure 1.1 Support at least 12 research projects (field trips) over the next three years to assess the fate of nanomaterials in the work environment.
Intermediate Goal 1.2 (09PPNANIG1.2) Worker exposures. Quantitatively assess exposures to nanomaterials in the workplace including inhalation and dermal exposure. Determine how exposures differ by work task or process.
Performance Measure 1.2 Within three years develop a baseline worker exposure assessment that identifies how exposures differ by work task or process.

Strategic Goal 2: Conduct research to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses by applying nanotechnology products.

Strategic Goal 3: Promote healthy workplaces through interventions, recommendations, and capacity building.

Stratgeic Goal 4: Enhance global workplace safety and health through national and international collaborations on nanotechnology research and guidance.