Since the 1980s, the burgeoning nanomaterial field has led to a growing number of manufacturers worldwide making and using these materials in coatings, computers, clothing, cosmetics, sports equipment, and medical devices, among other items.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has revealed plans for a major research effort to explore how nanotechnology is transforming our industry, and what implications this holds for worker safety.
As nanomaterials quickly make their way into many commercial sectors, it’s up to industrial hygienists to ensure this technology moves forward safely and responsibly, Chuck Geraci, PhD, CIH, said during NIOSH’s annual nanotechnology update at AIHce 2014 in San Antonio. Geraci, coordinator of the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center, outlined current challenges and changes related to nanotechnology and provided a sneak peek at upcoming work at NIOSH.
Employees who use nanomaterials in research or production processes may be exposed to nanoparticles through inhalation, dermal contact, or ingestion, depending upon how employees use and handle them. Although the potential health effects of such exposure are not fully understood at this time, scientific studies indicate that at least some of these materials are biologically active, may readily penetrate intact human skin, and have produced toxicologic reactions in the lungs of exposed experimental animals.
ISHN posted this commentary from Dr. Howard earlier in April. Given Dr. Howard’s long tenure at NIOSH and his visionary perspectives on worker health and safety, we want to “rebroadcast’ it as an ISHN blog.
Workers Memorial Day, April 28, reminds us that every death, injury, or illness on the job represents a human tragedy. Behind each statistic is the loss of a loved one’s life, the diminution or loss of a father’s or mother’s ability to provide for family needs, or a medical crisis that can have lifelong consequences.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is recommending that occupational exposures to carbon nanotubes and nanofibers be controlled to reduce worker’s potential risk for certain work-related lung effects. NIOSH is the first federal agency to issue recommended exposure levels for this growing industry.