An aerosol may be defined as a suspension of particles or droplets in the air and includes airborne dusts, mists, fumes or smoke. Suspended particle sizes may range from a few nanometers to hundreds of micrometers in diameter and particles can be manufactured or naturally occurring.

Aerosols in the workplace pose both health and safety hazards and are encountered across multiple industrial sectors. Particles can be inhaled, absorbed by the skin or ingested. Depending on particle size, composition, shape and concentration, particles can cause adverse health effects in workers. Adverse health effects can be either short or long term. Safety hazards may include fire or explosions.

NIOSH has carried out extensive research to understand how aerosols are formed in the workplace, how we sample and measure aerosols, to understand the health and safety implications, and to mitigate the health and safety hazards.

Below are some resources for reducing occupational safety and health exposures to aerosols based on NIOSH research.

Best Practices for Dust Control in Coal Mining and Best Practices for Dust Control in Metal/Nonmetal Mining
Describes effective methods for the control of mineral dusts in mines.

Hazard Control 30: Control of Drywall Sanding Dust Exposures
Details several methods to control exposure to high concentrations of dusts from sanding drywall joint compound.

Workers within nanotechnology-related industries may experience exposure to uniquely engineered materials. This includes novel sizes, shapes, and physical and chemical properties. Occupational health risks associated with manufacturing and using nanomaterials are not yet clearly understood. Minimal information is currently available on dominant exposure routes, potential exposure levels, and material toxicity of nanomaterials.

NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM)
Collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
Provides general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment.

NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH. Suggested key words, aerosol, particulate matter, airborne dust, mists, fume, exhaust, aerosol or dust sampling, aerosol or dust exposure, coal dusts, combustible dusts, aerosol or dust health hazards.