Evaluating nanomaterial exposures in the workplace: A description of the approach used by NIOSH and a summary of findings from 12 site visits
L.L. Hodson, M.M. Methner, C.L. Geraci
Keywords: emission, measurement, workplace, results
Abstract:Health, safety, and environmental issues continue to be a high priority area to be addressed during the commercialization of nanomaterials or nanomaterial-enabled products (Lux 2008). Facilities engaged in the production or use of engineered nanomaterials, specifically nanoparticles, have expressed an interest in learning if their processes present any potential for worker exposure. To assist with answering this question, NIOSH created a nanotechnology field research team tasked with visiting facilities and collecting information about the potential for release of nanoparticles and worker exposure at those facilities. The field team refined an in-depth nanoparticle research effort into a portable procedure that has been successfully used in a variety of facilities that handle or create engineered nanoparticles. NIOSH intends to communicate this procedure broadly so that it can be adopted by other health and safety professionals interested in determining potential releases of engineered nanoparticles from various processes. The nanoparticle emission assessment technique utilizes portable direct-reading instrumentation (condensation and optical particle counters) supplemented by a filter-based air samples (source-specific and personal breathing zone [PBZ]). The use of the filter samples are crucial for identification purposes because particle counters are generally insensitive to particle source or composition and make it difficult to differentiate between incidental and process-related nanoparticles using number concentration alone. The field technique will be described and results from using the technique at 12 facilities will be presented.