"Concern over the lack of knowledge about the potential health risks associated with the handling of pure, unbound engineered nanomaterials has been expressed by investors, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and public health advocacy groups. Such concerns create potential barriers to the growth of nanotechnology and the commercialization of products and devices."
For these reasons, NIOSH created the Nanotechnology Research Center several years ago. The center has just released an update on its latest accomplishments.
"The NTRC is researching and contributing to the development of guidelines for hazard identification, exposure assessment, and risk characterization that can help with the development and implementation of effective risk management practices," said Dr. John Howard, NIOSH director.
The NTRC has identified 10 critical areas of research and communication and grouped them into four strategic goals:
- Determine whether nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Conduct research on applying nanotechnology to the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Promote healthy workplaces through interventions, recommendations, and capacity building.
- Enhance global workplace safety and health through national and international collaborations on nanotechnology research and guidance.
To determine the progress of the strategic goals, researchers analyzed measures of various NTRC outputs. For example, they looked at guidance documents, scientific journal publications, the development of new technologies, and the creation of strategic collaborations and partnerships. Among the NTRC's accomplishments were the identification of pulmonary and cardiovascular hazards of some types of carbon nanotubes in animals and the development of a system to generate nanoparticle aerosols for inhalation toxicologic studies. More than 40 field assessments in nanomaterial manufacturer and user facilities were conducted, and over 400 peer-reviewed scientific publications have been produced. The center has also contributed to the development of a bio-mathematical model in rats to describe clearance, retention, and translocation of inhaled nanoparticles throughout the body.
"The NTRC will follow the successes established in its first seven years by continuing to work concurrently in all of the major areas of research needed to close knowledge gaps in the safety and health implications of engineered nanomaterials," the update says. Over the next few years, researchers will focus on priority research areas to protect the nanotechnology workforce.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 3, 2013
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