10 Critical Topic Areas
NIOSH has identified 10 critical topic areas to guide in addressing knowledge gaps, developing strategies, and providing recommendations.
Each topic provides a brief description of the research that NIOSH is conducting in the area of nanotechnology and the applications and implications of nanomaterials in the workplace.
- Investigating and determining the physical and chemical properties (ex: size, shape, solubility) that influence the potential toxicity of nanoparticles
- Evaluating short and long-term effects that nanomaterials may have in organ systems and tissues (ex: lungs)
- Determining biological mechanisms for potential toxic effects
- Creating and integrating models to assist in assessing possible hazards
- Determining if a measure other than mass is more appropriate for determining toxicity
- Determining the likelihood that current exposure-response data (human or animal) could be used in identifying and assessing potential occupational hazards
- Developing a framework for evaluating potential hazards and predicting potential occupational risk of exposure to nanomaterials.
- Evaluating existing epidemiological workplace studies where nanomaterials are used
- Identifying knowledge gaps where epidemiological studies could advance understanding of nanomaterials and evaluating the likelihood of conducting new studies
- Integrating nanotechnology health and safety issues into existing hazard surveillance methods and determining whether additional screening methods are needed
- Using existing systems to share data and information about nanotechnology
- Evaluating the effectiveness of engineering controls in reducing occupational exposures to nanoaerosols and developing new controls where needed
- Evaluating and improving current personal protective equipment
- Developing recommendations to prevent or limit occupational exposures (ex: respirator fit testing)
- Evaluating suitability of control banding techniques where additional information is needed; and evaluating the effectiveness of alternative materials
- Evaluating methods of measuring mass of respirable particles in the air and determining if this measurement can be used to measure nanomaterials
- Developing and field-testing practical methods to accurately measure airborne nanomaterials in the workplace
- Developing testing and evaluation systems to compare and validate sampling instruments
- Determining key factors that influence the production, dispersion, accumulation, and re-entry of nanomaterials into the workplace
- Assessing possible exposure when nanomaterials are inhaled or settle on the skin
- Determining how possible exposures differ by work process
- Determining what happens to nanomaterials once they enter the body
- Identifying physical and chemical properties that contribute to dustiness, combustibility, flammability, and conductivity of nanomaterials.
- Recommending alternative work practices to eliminate or reduce workplace exposures to nanoparticles.
- Using the best available science to make interim recommendations for workplace safety and health practices during the production and use of nanomaterials
- Evaluating and updating occupational exposure limits for mass-based airborne particles to ensure good continuing precautionary practices
- Providing guidance and publications to help provide information on the best available science for nanomaterials
- Establishing partnerships and collaborations to allow for identification and sharing of research needs, approaches, and results
- Developing and disseminating training and educational materials to workers and health and safety professionals
- Identifying uses of nanotechnology for application in occupational safety and health
- Evaluating and disseminating effective applications to workers and occupational safety and health professionals