NIOSH Offers Interim Guidance on Medical Screening, Hazard Surveillance for Workers Exposed to Nanoparticles

On Feb. 13, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued interim guidance for medical screening and hazard surveillance for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles.

The NIOSH recommendations in “Current Intelligence Bulletin 60: Interim Guidance for the Medical Screening and Hazard Surveillance for Workers Potentially Exposed to Engineered Nanoparticles” respond to ongoing interest by employers and other stakeholders in having authoritative occupational safety and health guidance in the manufacturing and industrial use of engineered nanomaterials.

“Leaders in business, the health community, and public policy have widely agreed on the need for prudent occupational safety and health strategies in the growing nanotechnology industry,” said NIOSH Acting Director Christine M. Branche, Ph.D. “NIOSH is pleased to help provide scientific guidance for such strategies, which are integral for maintaining U.S. leadership in the global nanotechnology market.”

As interim guidance, NIOSH recommends that employers:

  • Take prudent measures to control occupational exposures to engineered nanoparticles, such as those described in an earlier NIOSH document, “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology: An Information Exchange with NIOSH”
  • Conduct hazard surveillance as the basis for implementing controls, including the identification of work tasks and processes that involve the production and use of engineered nanoparticles.
  • Continue use of established medical surveillance approaches to flag any increase in the frequency of adverse health effects potentially associated with occupational exposures to engineered nanoparticles.

The Question of Medical Screening

The interim guidance addresses the question of whether specific medical screening is appropriate for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles who do not display symptoms of disease.

At this time, NIOSH concluded there is insufficient scientific and medical evidence to recommend the specific medical screening of workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles. However, NIOSH added, where occupational medical screening recommendations exist for given chemicals or bulk materials, those recommendations would be applicable for workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles composed of those same chemicals or bulk materials.

NIOSH will continue to collect and evaluate new research findings and will update its medical screening recommendations to reflect advances in research.

TAGS: Archive Health
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