The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the focal point for nanotechnology workplace safety issues in the US. Its current reports, Progress Toward Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace: A Report from the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center, Project Updates for 2007 and 2008, and Strategic Plan for NIOSH Nanotechnology Research and Guidance: Filling the Knowledge Gaps, update current and completed research projects, and map strategy for advancing knowledge about the health and safety aspects of nanomaterials, respectively.
The project update report describes 43 projects completed or underway that are aimed at increasing the knowledge of health effects of various types of nanoparticles, and how to measure control, and prevent workplace exposure. In nearly every project, nanoparticles exhibit health impacts that are different from the same chemical or material in larger form. Although the research has expanded knowledge about the hazards of a number of types of nanoparticles, much more work is needed.
The NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) has four key goals: 1) Determine risks of work-related injuries and illnesses of nanoparticles and nanomaterials; 2) Research application of nanotechnology products to prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses; 3) Promote healthy workplaces through interventions, recommendations, and capacity building; and 4) Collaborate globally on nanotechnology research and guidance to enhance workplace safety and health.
In support of these goals, NIOSH has established a strategy for achieving them. The report on the NIOSH strategic plan for research updates the original plan developed in September 2005, and incorporates the learning from the research conducted so far. For the next three years, NIOSH will:
1. Conduct toxicological research on nanoparticles likely to be commerciallyavailable;
2. Conduct research to identify long-term health effects of carbon nanotubes(CNT);develop recommendations for controlling occupational exposure to fine and ultrafine titanium dioxide (TiO 2) including recommended exposure limits (RELs);
3. Conduct research on improving sampling and analyticalmethods, determining the extent of workplace exposures, and controlling airborne exposures below the REL.
4. Identify appropriate medical surveillance or epidemiological studies.
5. Consider to what extent the observed relationship between TiO 2particle size and toxicity can be generalized to other metal oxides.
6. Develop recommendations for controllingoccupational exposures topurified and unpurified single-walledcarbon nanotubes (SWCNT) andmulti-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) including development of RELs.
7. Conduct research to address gaps in information on sampling, analysis, exposure assessment, instrumentationand controls.
8. Conduct research on how to identify categories of nanoparticles that can be distinguished on the basis of similarphysico-chemical properties. Conductresearch to develop RELs and ultimatelyrecommend exposure standardsfor these categories.
9. Conduct research on explosion potential of various nanoparticles.