Science Inventory

Engineered nanomaterials: Exposures, hazards and risk prevention.


Yorkel, R. A. AND R. C. MACPHAIL. Engineered nanomaterials: Exposures, hazards and risk prevention. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. Abel Publication Services, Burlington, NC, 6(1):7, (2011).


Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field in the industrial, academic and governmental sectors. The pace with which nanomaterials are being produced is far exceeding our understanding of their risks to human health and the environment. This manuscript reviews the extant literature and summarizes what is known about the different types ofnanomaterials, and the exposure routes and health effects that are likely to occur primarily in an occupational setting. The roles of transformation upon exposure, and translocation of nanoparticles to distal sites of attack are also discussed. The final section deals with preventive measures to lessen the risk of exposure and adverse effects on human health. This review may aid workers in the field, especially those that have relatively small operations (e.g., university research laboratories, start-up companies) that may not have the infrastructure for exercising safe occupational practices in handling and producing nanomaterials.


Nanotechnology presents the possibility of revolutionizing many aspects of our lives. People in many settings (academic, small and large industrial, and the general public) are either developing or using engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). However, understanding of the health and safety aspects of ENMs is still in its formative stage. The literature indicates the available information is incomplete, many of the early findings have not been independently verified, and some may have been over interpreted. This review describes ENMs briefly, their application, the workforce, the major routes of human exposure, some examples of uptake and adverse effects, what little has been reported on occupational exposure assessment, and approaches to minimize exposure and health hazards. These latter approaches include engineering controls such as fume hoods and personal protective equipment. Results showing the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of some of these controls are also included. This review is presented in the context of the Risk Assessment/Risk Management Framework, as a process to systematically work through this issue. Examples of current knowledge of nanoscale materials for each component of the Risk Assessment/Risk Management Framework are discussed. Given the notable lack of information, current recommendations to minimize exposure and hazards are largely based on common sense, knowledge by analogy to ultrafine material toxicity, and general health and safety recommendations. This review may serve as an overview for health and safety personnel, management, and ENM workers to establish and maintain a safe work environment. It may be most useful to small start-up companies and research institutions that do not yet have adequate personnel or expertise in nanotechnology health and safety issues.



Record Details:

Product Published Date: 03/21/2011
Record Last Revised: 05/14/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 231680