01/09/2006

Airborne Nanostructured Particles and Occupational Health

In the last December edition of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research appeared
an article on "Airborne Nanostructured Particles and Occupational Health". From
the available evidence, the scientists conclude that the current data, although
limited, suggest the wisdom of taking prudent measures in working with
engineered nanomaterials. While more research is needed to better understand
the characteristics and behaviors of nanomaterials relevant for assessing their
occupational health implications, enough data exist for suggesting preliminary
guiding principles, according to the article.

Nanotechnology is leading to the development in many field, of new materials
and devices in many fields that demonstrate nanostructure-dependent properties.
However, concern has been expressed that these same properties may present
unique challenges to addressing potential health impact.

Airborne particles associated with engineered nanomaterials are of particular
concern, as they can readily enter the body through inhalation. Research into
the potential occupational health risks associated with inhaling engineered
nanostructured particles is just beginning. However, there is a large body of
data on occupational and environmental aerosols, which is applicable to
developing an initial assessment of potential risk and risk reduction
strategies.



Epidemiological and pathological studies of occupational and environmental
exposures to airborne particles and fibers provide information on the
aerosol-related lung diseases and conditions that have been observed in humans.
Toxicological studies provide information on the specific disease mechanisms,
dose­response relationships, and the particle characteristics that influence
toxicity, including the size, surface area, chemistry or reactivity,
solubility, and shape. Potential health risk will depend on the magnitude and
nature of exposures to airborne nanostructured particles, and on the release,
dispersion, transformation and control of materials in the workplace.

Aerosol control methods have not been well-characterized for nanometer diameter
particles, although theory and limited experimental data indicate that
conventional ventilation, engineering control and filtration approaches should
be applicable in many situations.

Current information supports the development of preliminary guiding principles
on working with engineered nanomaterials. However critical research questions
remain to be answered before the potential health risk of airborne
nanostructured particles in the workplace can be fully addressed.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health