Risk management in handling new technologies in an occupational environment requires an assessment of both the hazard and the potential for exposure. Hazard requires an understanding of the transport of the nanomaterial in an organism and any resulting toxic responses of organs or biological interactions that could result in chronic (long term) effects. Assessment of the potential for exposure requires characterization of the concentration of the nanomaterial that could contact the person in the occupational environment in a location where it could be absorbed. When little is known about the potential hazard of a nanomaterial, conservative measures should be establish to minimize potential for exposure, such as engineering controls. If the hazard of the material is verified to be low, the risk assessor may be able to employ less stringent exposure prevention measures. The GoodNanoGuide’s OHS Reference Manual is intended to aid in identifying engineering controls that should be employed in different occupational environments. The environments considered include Research, Engineering and Development, and High Volume Manufacturing. The operations include synthesizing, transfer and packaging, or characterizing nanomaterials, formulating dispersions, processing dispersions, or processing or assembling nanomaterial based solids or components, and accidental spills and releases.
Begin with a well-defined description of work by gathering information about:
In addition to the suggestion that work planning/hazard assessment should begin with a well-defined description of work, the U.S. Department of Energy, Nanoscale Science Research Centers, “Approach to Nanomaterial ES&H,” further suggests that “the assessment should, as needed,
1. Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, “Guidance for Handling and Use of Nanomaterials at the Workplace,”, § II.1 (27 August 2007)
2. U.S. Department of Energy, Nanoscale Science Research Centers, “Approach to Nanomaterial ES&H,” 4-5 (Rev. 3a May 12, 2008).