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May 30, 2012

NIOSH Releases Guidance on General Safe Practices for Working with Engineered Nanomaterials in Research Laboratories

Lynn L. Bergeson

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has posted a document entitled General Safe Practices for Working with Engineered Nanomaterials in Research Laboratories, which contains recommendations on engineering controls and safe practices for handling engineered nanomaterials in laboratories and some pilot scale operations. According to NIOSH, it designed the guidance “to be used in tandem with well-established practices and the laboratory’s chemical hygiene plan.” The guidance notes that experimental animal studies indicate that potentially adverse health effects may result from exposure to nanomaterials, and that the routes of exposure include inhalation, dermal exposure, and ingestion. The guidance concludes that “[t]he full range of occupational hygiene controls will be necessary to limit exposures to nanomaterials as a means to prevent adverse health outcomes in the research community.  Engineering and administrative controls can eliminate or minimize the amount of nanomaterials that will be present in workplace air or settled on surfaces.  Personal protective equipment can be used where other types of controls are not available or practical.”