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Expert Addresses Nanotechnology Challenges Facing Safety And Health Professionals


 

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.

According 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.

SOURCE: ASSE


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