Safety Professionals Should Develop Protections Against Nanoparticle Exposure

Aug. 29, 2005
EHS professionals should develop safeguards to protect workers from nanoparticles that could enter their bloodstream or lungs, a nanotechnology expert said during an Aug. 24 audio conference hosted by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

ASSE member Robert Adams, CIH, CSP, said health and safety professionals in the nanotechnology industry should proactively develop safety practices to protect workers from nanoparticle exposure. He recommended that EHS professionals continue to utilize and improve upon safety and risk management programs in addition to providing necessary personal protective equipment and localized exhaust ventilation systems to reduce the build-up of nanoparticles in the workplace.

As the number of nanotechnology businesses grow, more research and data is needed to understand potential health effects on workers. Adams suggested nanoparticles could be absorbed into the bloodstream and brain through skin contact or inhalation through the lungs, but the specific health effects are not yet known. Organizations such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are conducting research, but it could be years before any long-term effects are determined, he said.

Adams is a manager in Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Technology at ENVIRON International Corp., where he serves as team leader of their occupational safety and health nanotechnology initiative.

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