10/11/2004

Safety concerns regarding nanopowders

The British Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) has published a literature
review of the explosion hazards associated with nanopowders, ie powders made up
of particles ranging in size range from about 1 to 100 nanometres (nm).

The growing demand for nanopowders arises from the fact that there can be
changes in physical, chemical and electrical properties exhibited by particles
when their size falls below about 100nm.

However, along with the increasing production and use of nanoscale particles,
there has been a growing concern over the impact of this new technology on
health and safety and the environment.

The concern has almost exclusively concentrated on the potential health hazards
of nanopowders but one potential hazard that appears to have received little
attention to date is their explosiveness.

The report finds that there is in fact a considerable body of knowledge on the
explosion characteristics of micronscale powders (particle sizes ranging from
about 10 to 500 micrometers) but no data for nanopowders (particle sizes of 1
to 100nm).

Furthermore, the researchers believe that the extrapolation of the data for
larger particles to the nanosize range cannot be carried out with any degree of
confidence, due to marked change in the chemical and physical properties of
particles below sizes of about 100nm.

The report therefore recommends that the explosion characteristics of a
representative range of nanopowders be determined using the standard apparatus
and procedures already employed for assessing dust explosion hazards.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work