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October 7, 2022

NIOSH Blog Post Summarizes Work in the Area of Engineered Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) posted a blog item entitled “NIOSH News for National Nanotechnology Day!” on October 6, 2022. In honor of National Nanotechnology Day, October 9, the item summarizes NIOSH’s work in the area of engineered nanomaterials, including the NIOSH Nanomaterial Exposure Assessment Technique (NEAT 2.0), which can be used to identify the potential for exposure to engineered nanomaterials in the workplace. According to NIOSH, the sampling strategy consists of the following important steps:

  • Collect Basic Workplace Information: Workflow, number of workers, tasks performed, materials used, and other indicators of potential exposure;
  • Design and Implement the Sampling Plan: Full-shift and task-based integrated filter-based sampling, direct reading instruments, and engineering controls evaluation;
  • Risk Assessment: Evaluate background and engineering controls data; use the hierarchy of controls to develop mitigation strategies for exposure potential; and communicate potential risks; and
  • Risk Management: Confirm ongoing control of risk by performing additional measurements, if necessary.

NIOSH states that by performing these steps, a comprehensive exposure assessment can be performed to assist with the identification of potential nanomaterial exposures in an occupational setting. By determining exposure potential, the facility can then work to control exposure using mitigation strategies and the hierarchy of controls.

NIOSH also reports on the results of an online survey of 45 companies in the United States and Canada that fabricate, manufacture, handle, dispose of, or otherwise use nanomaterials. The survey included questions about the nanomaterials in use and the overall occupational health and safety culture at the companies, as well as whether the companies interacted with NIOSH or used NIOSH resources to inform their health and safety practices and policies. According to NIOSH, more than a third of the 45 respondents reported using at least one NIOSH resource for information about safe handling of nanomaterials, although larger companies were more likely to report using NIOSH resources. NIOSH states that “[w]hile the survey was limited by the small sample size, it provided valuable insight, including that future NIOSH outreach should specifically target small businesses that use or handle nanomaterials.”