Nano-metal Oxides: Exposure and Engineering Control Assessment
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Nano-metal Oxides: Exposure and Engineering Control Assessment

Filetype[PDF-1.77 MB]


  • Alternative Title:
    J Occup Environ Hyg
  • Description:
    In January 2007, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a field study to evaluate process specific emissions during the production of ENMs. This study was performed using the nanoparticle emission assessment technique (NEAT). During this study, it was determined that ENMs were released during production and cleaning of the process reactor. Airborne concentrations of silver, nickel, and iron were found both in the employee's personal breathing zone and area samples during reactor cleaning. At the completion of this initial survey, it was suggested that a flanged attachment be added to the local exhaust ventilation system.  NIOSH re-evaluated the facility in December 2011 to assess worker exposures following an increase in production rates. This study included a fully comprehensive emissions, exposure, and engineering control evaluation of the entire process. This study made use of the nanoparticle exposure assessment technique (NEAT 2.0). Data obtained from filter-based samples and direct reading instruments indicate that reactor cleanout increased the overall particle concentration in the immediate area. However, it does not appear that these concentrations affect areas outside of the production floor. As the distance between the reactor and the sample location increased, the observed particle number concentration decreased, creating a concentration gradient with respect to the reactor. The results of this study confirm that the flanged attachment on the local exhaust ventilation system served to decrease exposure potential.  Given the available toxicological data of the metals evaluated, caution is warranted. One should always keep in mind that occupational exposure levels were not developed specifically for nanoscale particles. With data suggesting that certain nanoparticles may be more toxic than the larger counterparts of the same material; employers should attempt to control emissions of these particles at the source, to limit the potential for exposure.
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