Working Safely With Nanomaterials

nano-particles

Recently, the topic of working safety with nanomaterials has been gathering more attention. According to The International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 229, the definition of a nano-object is a material with one, two, or three external dimentions in the 1- to 100 nm size range. When arranged as a group, they are called nanomaterial. Basically, nano-particles are so small that they are able to penetrate cell membranes, integrate into larger molecules and sometimes even interfere with cell processes. This is expecially of concern when it could possibly be found in everyday cosmetics or grooming products that are highly under-regulated.

nano-particles

Resources with safety suggestions and methods for handling nanomaterial for research and development, however, are now easier to find. One of them by NIOSH, has been published as a public document with suggestions on engineering control and was created to be meant as an addition to an already established laboratory safety procedures and a chemical hygiene plan. A very thorough and easy to follow explanation of methods and suggestions, the main subjects to safely working with nano-particles in the document are as listed:

  1. Risk Management- This includes the below hazard identification, exposure assessment, and exposure control.
  2. Hazard Identification- Determining the type of danger a particle entails is part of this section. Also consider whether nanoparticles are hazardous by inhalation, dermal exposure, or ingestion.
  3. Exposure Assessment- Identifying different ways of potential exposure through tasks done also help to safely prevent danger. Dustiness, process, and quantity, duration, and frequency of tasks can influence the level of danger when exposed.
  4. Exposure Control- Some recommendations on control include elimination or substitution, isolation and engineering controls (such as containment or ventilation), administrative controls (employee training, labeling, storage), personal protective equipment (clothing, respirators, etc.), local exhaust ventilation,
  5. Other Considerations- This includes scenarios such as fire control and explosion to spills management.

To view the full PDF document, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2012-147/pdfs/2012-147.pdf.

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