Nanotechnology Research Center PPOP

What are our priorities?

The Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research to understand the potential effects on human health of exposure to engineered nanomaterials. The NTRC also develops methods to control or eliminate exposures. Nanoparticles are extremely small particles (between 1 and 100 nanometers) designed to have certain new or unique characteristics, like strength, elasticity, or reactivity. These new properties make advanced materials and products possible. NTRC focuses on the following areas to help industry move safely and responsibly into the future:

  • Increasing the public’s understanding of potential health risks to workers making and using nanomaterials.
  • Preventing occupational exposures to nanomaterials.
  • Evaluating potential worker health risks from advanced materials and manufacturing processes.
What do we do?
  • Identify new types and uses of engineered nanomaterials through market forecasting and research, technology surveillance, and partner and stakeholder input.
  • Prioritize the growing number of engineered nanomaterials for lab and field research, focusing on the ones that have the greatest potential for exposure and harm to workers.
  • Conduct laboratory research to expand our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the effects of exposure over time and across the life cycle.
  • Conduct field investigations and epidemiological studies for a realistic understanding of exposure and risks to nanomaterial workers.
  • Share recommendations on how to use engineering controls and personal protective equipment to lower exposure to engineered nanomaterials.
  • Provide critical input into the U.S. cross-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and other international organizations’ strategies to address health and safety of nanomaterials.
  • Provide nanomaterial businesses with guidance they can use to keep their workers safe, develop public trust, and in turn accelerate their commercialization.
  • Help companies function in the face of uncertainty about potential negative effects of engineered nanomaterials.
What have we accomplished?
  • Published Current Intelligence Bulletin: Health Effects from Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials.
  • Published the first paper describing an engineering control for 3D printers which can reduce ultrafine particle concentrations from an individual printer by 98%.
  • Planned and delivered the NNI Environmental Health and Safety Webinar series.
  • Hosted a seminar for 120 attendees as part of  the NNI webinar series on heath risks across the life cycle of nano-enabled materials.
What’s next?
  • Conduct an evaluation of biomarkers of nanomaterial exposure and disease.
  • Work with industry leaders to develop practical, “real world” evaluation of hazard and risk represented by nanomaterials through their life cycles.
  • Conduct external peer review of a draft NIOSH document, Approaches to Developing Occupational Exposure Limits or Bands for Engineered Nanomaterials: User Manual and Technical Report.
  • Contribute to an update of the NNI Strategic Plan.

Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At-A-Glance

The NTRC develops recommendations that support responsible development of nanotechnology. This snapshot shows recent accomplishments and upcoming work.

Cumulative Number of NIOSH Nanotechnology and Additive Manufacturing Publications since 2016
Cumulative Number of NIOSH Nanotechnology and Additive Manufacturing Publications since 2016

Source: NIOSH program records

Examples of Engineering Controls for 3D Printers:
Low-cost air cleaner assembly connected to a modified smart extruder cover.

Source: NIOSH program records. Extruder head emission control design developed to capture emissions at the point of release.

Examples of Engineering Controls for 3D Printers:

Source: NIOSH program records. Low-cost air cleaner assembly connected to a modified smart extruder cover.

To learn more, visit
www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/nano/default.html
August 2021

Page last reviewed: June 10, 2020