Health and Safety Practices in the Nanomaterials Workplace: Results from an International Survey

J. Conti, K. Killpack, G. Gerritzen, L. Huang, M. Mircheva, M. Delmas, B. Harthorn, R. Appelbaum, P. Holden

This article reports the findings of an international survey of nanomaterials firms and laboratories regarding their environmental health and safety (EHS) programs, engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), exposure monitoring, waste disposal, product stewardship, and risk beliefs. While many participants reported not believing that nanomaterials pose special risks, nanospecific EHS programs were still widely reported. Most nanospecific EHS programs appeared to build from general EHS programs but included nanospecific workplace engineering controls and recommendations for clothing, gloves, eye protection, and respirators. Organizations with nanospecific EHS programs also reported providing product (safe use) guidance to consumers. However, workplace monitoring and nanospecific waste disposal were uneven and were only associated with the subset of organizations believing in special risks. A majority of organizations expressed a need for more toxicological information and EHS guidance.Overall, this study suggests that nanomaterials firms and laboratories are already attentive to nanospecific EHS and product stewardship issues. However, improved risk communication is needed to further the implementation of related programs. Organizations that are wholly inattentive to EHS would likely engage in nanospecific EHS upon implementing a staffed, general EHS program.

Published Work | 2008 | Environmental Science and Technology

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