Nanotechnology is the science and technology of precisely manipulating the structure of matter at the molecular level.
A nanometer is a thousandth of a micron and a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter, so a nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter or 10-9 meters. To be classified as a nanomaterial (NM), the material must be less than 100 nm in size in at least one direction. The International Standards Organization (ISO) does not distinguish between engineered nanoparticles and naturally occurring nanoparticles. There are naturally occurring nanoparticles in the environment today.
While nanomaterials present seemingly limitless possibilities, they bring new challenges to understanding, predicting, and managing potential safety and health risks to workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the leading federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology.
Nano Hazards in Research
- Nanomaterial Overview (NIOSH site)
- Controlling Exposures to Nanomaterials (2012)
- Protecting the Nanotech Workforce (2013)
- Nanomaterial Production & Downstream Handling Processes (2014)
- Risk Management and Hazard Communications (NIOSH site)
- Tools and Resources for Further Study (NIOSH link)
- "Working Safely With Nanomaterials" Fact Sheet (OSHA 2013)
- NIOSH publications link
- GoodNanoGuide provides free short courses and resources to get some basic safety training and information for working with nano materials.
- University of California draft Toolkit for Safe Nanoparticle use (has sample SOPs): http://www.ehs.ucr.edu/laboratory/nanotoolkit.pdf
Risk Management and Safety staff is available to do hazard assessments and make recommendations for workplace safety and health practices for labs using or engineering nanomaterials. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.