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Safety

Revised Plan Issued To Protect Nanotech Workers

by Britt E. Erickson
January 6, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 1

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has released a new strategic plan intended to guide nanotechnology research through 2016. The plan focuses on protecting workers by identifying hazards associated with engineered nanomaterials and developing ways to track workers exposed to nanomaterials over time. It also identifies several gaps in critical research areas, including measurement methods, exposure assessment, epidemiology and surveillance, and fire and explosion safety. “Increasing numbers of workers are potentially exposed to nanomaterials in research laboratories, start-up companies, production facilities, and operations where nanomaterials are processed, used, disposed, or recycled,” the plan states. The challenge for NIOSH is to determine whether engineered nanomaterials present new occupational safety and health risks, the plan says. NSF estimates that nanotechnology will employ 6 million workers in the manufacture of nanomaterial-based products by 2020. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

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