Continuing to protect the nanotechnology workforce : NIOSH nanotechnology research plan for 2018–2025
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Continuing to protect the nanotechnology workforce : NIOSH nanotechnology research plan for 2018–2025

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    "Nanotechnology-the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale (1 to 100 nanometers) to produce new materials and devices-has the ability to transform many industries and their products, from medicine to manufacturing. Even though nanoscale substances such as carbon black or titanium dioxide have been in use for a long time, modern nanotechnology is still an emerging field. The commercial application of newer engineered nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes began about 20 years ago. Consequently, as is the case with any emerging technology, there are many unanswered questions about the risk management continuum-hazard, exposure, risk, control-with regard to nanotechnology. Hazard is the driver of that continuum, and the wide use of nanomaterials in commerce possibly means wide worker exposure. Employers, workers, and other decision makers are asking for information on every element of the risk management continuum simultaneously, from hazard identification to control. Many knowledge gaps remain on how to work safely with these materials. Through strategic planning, research, partnering with stakeholders, and making information widely available, NIOSH is providing national and world leadership to prevent work-related illness and injury. NANOTECHNOLOGY AND NIOSH RESEARCH: Nanotechnology and the commercialization of products and devices containing engineered nanomaterials could help address critical global problems concerning energy, transportation, pollution, health, and food. The potential benefits of nanotechnology are immense. However, scientists must also address concerns about the potential adverse human health effects of this technology. Timely, targeted research must further define the hazards, exposures, and risks and provide guidance for the safe handling of nanomaterials. A concerted effort by industry, academia, labor, environmental health and safety professionals, and government can fill the knowledge gaps in an accessible process that coincides with development of this new technology. NIOSH is playing an active part in this process by supporting the development of a broad spectrum of research and prevention strategies for health and safety hazards related to nanotechnology. In a series of reports [NIOSH 2007, 2010, 2012a], NIOSH has summarized its progress in conducting nanotechnology research and recommending risk management strategies (see NIOSH investigators have identified adverse health effects in animals exposed to various engineered nanomaterials; assessed worker exposures; initiated epidemiologic research; and provided guidance on occupational exposure limits (OELs), control technologies, and medical surveillance. Yet, there are still many questions. Advanced synthesis techniques yield nanomaterials with a practically limitless combination of physicochemical traits, each of which could have unique toxicology and exposure risks. There is need for an expeditious approach for controlling exposure to the continuously growing number of nanomaterials used both in science and in commerce. Moreover, the advanced nanomaterials under development may have additional potentially hazardous characteristics that will need addressing in the near future [Murashov et al. 2012]. NIOSH NANOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH CENTER: NIOSH established the Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) in 2004 to coordinate nanotechnology research across the institute. Ten critical areas of research (toxicity and internal dose; measurement methods; exposure assessment; epidemiology and surveillance; risk assessment; engineering controls and personal protective equipment [PPE]; fire and explosion safety; recommendations and guidance; global collaborations; and applications and informatics) have at least one key scientist each, serving as a coordinator. The NTRC and its steering committee of critical area coordinators are responsible for developing and guiding NIOSH scientific and organizational plans in nanotechnology health and safety research. STRATEGIC PLAN: The development of nanotechnology has reached a point of wide application, and numerous nanomaterials and nano-enabled products are in commerce. Nanotechnology may provide great benefits to society if developed responsibly. This responsibility involves addressing any potential adverse human and environmental impacts of the technology associated with engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). Workers are among the first to have contact with (exposure to) potential health hazards from new technology and products, and their exposure to any new material is often greater than for the general population. Therefore, worker safety and health are at the core of responsible development. This document presents the NTRC strategic plan for fiscal year (FY)2018-FY2025. The strategic plan also highlights how the critical research and guidance efforts of NIOSH align with and support the comprehensive Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy needs of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (Section 6). These research needs are consistent with nanotechnology-related research goals included in the NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2023, but offer greater detail ( For the period FY2018-FY2025, NIOSH will continue to fill information and knowledge gaps that address the five NIOSH NTRC strategic goals first defined in the 2013 strategic plan ( (NIOSH 2013a): 1. Increase understanding of new nanomaterials and related health risks to nanomaterial workers. 2. Expand understanding of the initial hazard findings on engineered nanomaterials. 3. Support the creation of guidance materials to inform nanomaterial workers, employers, health professionals, regulatory agencies, and decision-makers about hazards, risks, and risk management approaches. 4. Support epidemiologic studies for nanomaterial workers, including medical, cross-sectional, prospective cohort, and exposure studies. 5. Assess and promote national and international adherence with risk management guidance." - NIOSHTIC-2

    NIOSHTIC no. 20054395

    Suggested citation: NIOSH [2019]. Continuing to protect the nanotechnology workforce: NIOSH nanotechnology research plan for 2018–2025. By Hodson L, Geraci C, Schulte P. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Depart- ment of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National In- stitute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2019-116, https://doi. org/10.26616/NIOSHPUB2019116.

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