Nanotechnology is somewhat loosely defined, although in general terms it covers engineered structures, devices, and systems that have a length scale between 1 and 100 nanometers. At this size, materials begin to exhibit unique properties that affect physical, chemical, and biological behavior.
Occupational health risks associated with manufacturing and using nanomaterials are not yet clearly understood. Studies have indicated that low solubility nanoparticles are more toxic than larger particles on a mass for mass basis. There are also indications that nanoparticles can penetrate through the skin or move from the respiratory system to other organs. Conducting a thorough risk assessment prior to work in with nanomaterials is the key to ensuring potential hazards are properly identified and mitigated. Laboratory personnel must conduct a risk assessment and ensure the proper exposure controls are in place, prior to working with nanomaterials.
If you have active or planned experiments involving nanomaterials, please review the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Nanomaterial Safety Guidance’s, and contact EHSS (315.443.2447) to discuss the nature of the research and controls that may need to be put in place to reduce potential hazards.