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December 20, 2013

NIOSH Publishes Nanotechnology Research and Guidance Strategic Plan

Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 20, 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a document entitled Protecting the Nanotechnology Workforce: NIOSH Nanotechnology Research and Guidance Strategic Plan, 2013-2016. NIOSH describes the document as “the roadmap being used to advance basic understanding of the toxicology and workplace exposures involved so that appropriate risk management practices can be implemented during discovery, development, and commercialization of engineered nanomaterials.” NIOSH states that, for fiscal years 2013-2016, it will continue to fill information and knowledge gaps addressing the five NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) strategic goals:

  1. Increase understanding of new hazards and related health risks to nanomaterial workers;
  2. Expand understanding of the initial hazard findings of engineered nanomaterials;
  3. Support the creation of guidance materials to inform nanomaterial workers, employers, health professionals, regulatory agencies, and decision-makers about hazards, risks, and risk management approaches;
  4. Support epidemiologic studies for nanomaterial workers, including medical, cross-sectional, prospective cohort, and exposure studies; and
  5. Assess and promote national and international adherence with risk management guidance.

To address these strategic goals and promote the responsible development of engineered nanomaterials, NIOSH states that the strategic plan will expand research activities in ten critical areas:  toxicity and internal dose; measurement methods; exposure assessment; epidemiology and surveillance; risk assessment; engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE); fire and explosion safety; recommendations and guidance; global collaborations; and applications.