Nanotechnology Research Center
NIOSH, through its Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC), leads the federal government in research focused on providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of advanced manufacturing, including nanomaterial manufacturing.
Technical Report: Occupational Exposure Sampling for Engineered Nanomaterials
NIOSH developed guidance for workplace sampling for three engineered nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, silver, and titanium dioxide, each of which have an elemental mass-based NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL). In addition, NIOSH developed a practical approach to exposure sampling for other engineered nanomaterials that do not have exposure limits. Occupational health and safety professionals have expressed a need for one document that explains all of the available nanomaterial sampling techniques, and this document provides a summary of the different sampling techniques.
Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for Silver Nanomaterials
NIOSH assessed potential health risk from occupational exposure to silver nanomaterials by evaluating more than 100 studies of silver nanomaterials in animals or cells. In 2021 NIOSH published risk assessment documentation and a recommended exposure limit (REL) for silver nanoparticles. The REL for silver (Ag) nanoparticles (<100 nm primary particle size) is 0.9 µg/m3 as an airborne respirable 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration. NIOSH continues to recommend a REL of 10 µg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA for total silver (metal dust, fume, and soluble compounds, as Ag). RELs can be used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in setting legal standards, and also can help employers, workers, and health professionals to recognize and control workplace hazards. See Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials for more detail.
Workplace Posters for 3D Printing
Two posters, 3D Printing with Metal Powders: Health and Safety Questions to Ask and 3D Printing with Filaments: Health and Safety Questions to Ask, provide different control options and information to reduce exposure to potential hazards.
New Engineering Control for 3D Printers
NIOSH developed an effective engineering control solution where twenty 3D printers fabricated their own engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to ultrafine particles. The engineering control can reduce ultrafine particle concentrations from an individual printer by 98%.
The Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) conducts research to better understand the effects of advanced materials, including engineered nanomaterials, on human health and methods to control or eliminate exposures. Nanomaterials are extremely small particles (with at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers) purposefully designed to have certain new or unique characteristics, like strength or elasticity, needed to make advanced materials and products.
NIOSH is the leading federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of advanced materials and nanotechnology. The NTRC focuses on these areas:
- Increasing understanding of hazards and related health risks to workers who make and use advanced materials such as nanomaterials.
- Preventing occupational exposures to advanced materials such as nanomaterials through understanding control technologies and protective technologies.
A key leadership role for the NTRC is the development of goals. Continuing To Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce: NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Plan for 2018–2025 currently guides NIOSH research and partnership efforts. Within the five overarching strategic goals described in the Plan, NTRC identified three top priorities:
- Priority 1 – Increase understanding of new hazards and related health risks to nanomaterial workers.
- Priority 2 – Build upon initial guidance materials to further inform nanomaterial workers, employers, health professionals, regulatory agencies, and decision-makers about hazards, risks, and risk management approaches.
- Priority 3 – Use a nanomaterial hazard banding classification scheme to group engineered nanomaterials. Findings from this research will provide the scientific basis for developing occupational exposure limits for individual nanomaterials or groups of nanomaterials.
These priorities have been integrated into the NIOSH Strategic Plan in research goals to better understand the potential respiratory health effects of exposure to nanomaterials and other advanced materials in the Construction and Manufacturing sectors, as a well as a goal to research the potential link of nanomaterial exposure to cancer and cardiovascular disease among manufacturing workers.
The Nanotechnology Research Center Performance One-Pager (PPOP) offers a snapshot of the program’s priorities, strategies used to make progress towards priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.
More information useful resources can be found on the Nanotechnology page.
The NIOSH Science Blog provides an opportunity to learn about various workplace safety and health topics and exchange ideas with leading researchers from NIOSH. Check out Nanotechnology-themed NIOSH Science Blogs.
Contact the program leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.