Taking stock of the occupational safety and health challenges of nanotechnology: 2000–2015
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Taking stock of the occupational safety and health challenges of nanotechnology: 2000–2015

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Nanopart Res
  • Description:
    Engineered nanomaterials significantly entered commerce at the beginning of the 21st century. Concerns about serious potential health effects of nanomaterials were widespread. Now, approximately 15 years later, it is worthwhile to take stock of research and efforts to protect nanomaterial workers from potential risks of adverse health effects. This article provides and examines timelines for major functional areas (toxicology, metrology, exposure assessment, engineering controls and personal protective equipment, risk assessment, risk management, medical surveillance, and epidemiology) to identify significant contributions to worker safety and health. The occupational safety and health field has responded effectively to identify gaps in knowledge and practice, but further research is warranted and is described. There is now a greater, if imperfect, understanding of the mechanisms underlying nanoparticle toxicology, hazards to workers, and appropriate controls for nanomaterials, but unified analytical standards and exposure characterization methods are still lacking. The development of control-banding and similar strategies has compensated for incomplete data on exposure and risk, but it is unknown how widely such approaches are being adopted. Although the importance of epidemiologic studies and medical surveillance is recognized, implementation has been slowed by logistical issues. Responsible development of nanotechnology requires protection of workers at all stages of the technological life cycle. In each of the functional areas assessed, progress has been made, but more is required.
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