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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZHNBa - Current Intelligence Bulletin: Carbon Nanotubes

Start Date: 10/1/2008
End Date: 10/30/2013

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Faye Rice
Phone: 513-533-8335
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

Carbon nanotube engineering and technology is a rapidly developing area that could influence a large number of industrial processes and products in the manufacturing sector of the United States. Some of the greatest potential influence has been described in the areas of electronics, semiconductors, medical imaging, sensing, and composite materials. However, many uncertainties exist regarding the occupational and environmental health and safety of carbon nanotubes. This project will develop a NIOSH policy document (i.e., Current Intelligence Bulletin) and other communication products such as web pages and presentations, to communicate and disseminate the most current research results and recommendations on the health and safety issues involved in carbon nanotube technology. NIOSH will develop key stakeholder partnerships in the manufacturing sector to effectively disseminate the products of this project.


Current toxicologic research suggests that inhalation of engineered carbon nanotubes may have the potential to cause cancer and fibrosis in occupational settings. To assess these risks and inform workers, NIOSH will develop a policy document (i.e., Current Intelligence Bulletin) to summarize the state of knowledge of the adverse health effects of engineered carbon nanotubes. The NIOSH document will include health recommendations to protect workers based on a quantitative risk assessment using toxicologic dose-response data. Document development and risk assessment will be initiated in FY09.


The goal of this project is to answer questions and address uncertainties associated with the manufacture and introduction of engineered carbon nanotubes into the workplace by creating a NIOSH policy document (i.e., Current Intelligence Bulletin) to disseminate current information and NIOSH quantitative risk assessment results on occupational safety and health issues associated with carbon nanotubes. The project will include collaboration with companies, universities, and government laboratories involved in research, development, and production of carbon nanotubes. The NIOSH document will include recommended exposure limits (RELs), guidelines, and recommended practices for the safe and responsible development and use of engineered carbon nanotubes. 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 carbon nanotubes. Data on the extent of implementation will be gathered through partnerships in the industry and with academia.

Mission Relevance

Nanotechnology is a rapidly expanding technology with 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 with the potential to improve the performance of many existing products. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) are carbon-based nanomaterials developed and produced in quantities ranging from research scale to commercial production and in some instances, carbon nanotubes are being introduced into existing processes and products. NIOSH will produce a policy document and other educational materials that will provide information on potential health hazards, recommended exposure limits, control measures, and guidance on personal protective equipment.

This project supports the following goals:

Sector Program:

Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goal 5 (09PPMNFSG5): Reduce the number of respiratory conditions and diseases due to exposures in the manufacturing sector, and

Strategic Goal 6 (09PPMNFSG6): Reduce the prevalence of cancer due to exposures in the manufacturing sector.



Strategic Goal 9: Enhance the state of knowledge related to emerging risks to occupational safety and health in manufacturing.

Cross-Sector Health Outcome Programs:

Cancer, Reproductive, and Cardiovascular Diseases: Strategic Goal 1 (09PPCRCSG1): Reduce the incidence of work-related cancer.

Intermediate Goal 1.2 (09PPCRCIG1.2): Promote carcinogen-free workplaces in the US.

Activity/Output Goal 1.2.1. (09PPCRCAOG1.2.1); Conduct and communicate quantitative risk assessments for high-priority known carcinogens.


Respiratory Diseases Strategic Goal 4 (09PPRDRSG4) Prevent and reduce work-related respiratory malignancies.

Intermediate Goal (09PPRDRIG4.1): reduce the incidence of work-related cancer through research, promotion of carcinogen-free workplaces, and international collaborations.

Respiratory Diseases Strategic Goal 5 (09PPRDRSG5): Prevent respiratory and other diseases potentially resulting from occupational exposures to nanomaterials.

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


Other Cross Sector Program

Strategic Goal 1 (09PPNANSG1). Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Nanotechnology Intermediate Goal 4 (09PPNANIG4): Risk Assessment

In the context of occupational safety and health, risk assessment can be described as a scientific evaluation of the potential for adverse health and safety effects to workers exposed to hazardous substances. When assessing risk, it must be determined whether a hazard is present and the extent to which a worker is likely to be exposed to the hazard. Risk involves both the presence of a hazardous agent and the potential for exposure to that agent. Quantitative and qualitative risk assessment methods are used to evaluate risk.

Intermediate Goal 4.1 (09PPNANIG4.1). Evaluate current studies.

Determine to what extent current exposure-response data (human or animal) for fine and ultrafine particles may be used to identify and assess potential occupational hazards and risks to nanomaterials.

Nanotechnology Intermediate Goal 8.2 (09PPNANIG8.2) Occupational exposure limits (OELs).

Evaluate the current mass-based exposure limits for airborne particulates for their effectiveness in protecting workers exposed to nanomaterials. Update the OELs (as needed) to incorporate current scientific information (e.g., particle surface area versus mass as predictor of toxicity, shape, influence of surface properties). Consider development of an OEL for selected carbon nanotubes.
Performance Measure 8.2. By 2008, complete the current intelligence bulletin (CIB), Evaluation of Health Hazard and Recommendations for Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide, with the OEL for ultrafine titanium dioxide. Support a project over the next three years to evaluate other ultrafine or nanoparticle OELs. Develop a CIB on carbon nanotubes by 2011.


Global Collaborations Strategic Goal 5 (09PPGLCSG5): Prevent worker illness globally from exposure to nanomaterials by sharing information (See Manufacturing Sector goals and Nanotechnology page).

Intermediate Goal 5.1 (099PPGLCIG5.1): The World Health Organization provides for information sharing about nanomaterials among the 65 Collaborating Centers. (See also Nanotechnology Cross Sector Strategic Goals.)

Activity/Output Goal 5.1.1 (09PPGlCAOG5.1.1): Provide a NIOSH Nanotechnology Topic page as an international resource (

Strategic Goal (109PPAURSG1): Reduce and prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by supporting NORA sector and cross-sector programs in the development of authoritative recommendations.