8/26/2005 Des Plaines, IL — Safety,
health and environmental professionals should develop
safeguards to protect workers from nanoparticles
that could enter their bloodstream or lungs, recommended
American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) member
Robert Adams, CIH, CSP, during a recent Audio Conference.
Nanoparticles are particles of materials the size
of one-billionth of a meter, and at this level
the physical, chemical and biological properties
of matter can be engineered to create new products
and applications such as water-repellant coatings
and more-durable titanium cutting tools.
to Adams, occupational safety, health and environmental
(SH&E) professionals in the
nanotechnology industry should proactively develop
safety practices to protect workers from nanoparticle
exposure. He recommended that SH&E 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 to workers. Adams advised that 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,
but it could be years before any long-term effects
are determined. For additional resources on nanotechnology
visit www.asse.org/nantecharticle.htm .
Adams is a manager in Environmental Sciences, Engineering
and Technology at ENVIRON International Corporation,
where he serves as team leader of their occupational
safety and health nanotechnology initiative.