Overview of Risk Management for Engineered Nanomaterials
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Overview of Risk Management for Engineered Nanomaterials

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Phys Conf Ser
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    Occupational exposure to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) is considered a new and challenging occurrence. Preliminary information from laboratory studies indicates that workers exposed to some kinds of ENMs could be at risk of adverse health effects. To protect the nanomaterial workforce, a precautionary risk management approach is warranted and given the newness of ENMs and emergence of nanotechnology, a naturalistic view of risk management is useful. Employers have the primary responsibility for providing a safe and healthy workplace. This is achieved by identifying and managing risks which include recognition of hazards, assessing exposures, characterizing actual risk, and implementing measures to control those risks. Following traditional risk management models for nanomaterials is challenging because of uncertainties about the nature of hazards, issues in exposure assessment, questions about appropriate control methods, and lack of occupational exposure limits (OELs) or nano-specific regulations. In the absence of OELs specific for nanomaterials, a precautionary approach has been recommended in many countries. The precautionary approach entails minimizing exposures by using engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). Generally, risk management utilizes the hierarchy of controls. Ideally, risk management for nanomaterials should be part of an enterprise-wide risk management program or system and this should include both risk control and a medical surveillance program that assesses the frequency of adverse effects among groups of workers exposed to nanomaterials. In some cases, the medical surveillance could include medical screening of individual workers to detect early signs of work-related illnesses. All medical surveillance should be used to assess the effectiveness of risk management; however, medical surveillance should be considered as a second line of defense to ensure that implemented risk management practices are effective.
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