The Nano Risk Framework published by the Environmental Defense Fund and DuPont recommends asking the following questions about the engineered nanomaterial:
- “Review the literature on known uses.
- Briefly describe the expected applications of this material, noting especially any differences from the uses of incumbent and bulk materials. Are these uses new relative to any that are already represented in the literature?
- Why is the material being manufactured in the nanosize range, as opposed to other sizes?
- How will the material be handled when received by downstream processors? by end- users?
- Is the material bound in the application? If so, is it a chemical bonding?
- Will the material be dispersed in the environment or used by a large number of users?
- How much of the material will be present in the various products (wt %)?
- Is this a high-volume use?
- What new or different application benefits does this material offer relative to existing alternatives for the same application?
- List all other potential applications.
- Are there applications for this material that intentionally will not be pursued?
- How will the materials or products be handled and disposed of, post-use?” 1
The Precautionary Matrix for Synthetic Nanomaterials, developed by the Federal Office of Public Health and the Federal Office for Environment in Switzerland, can be used to assess the “nanospecific precautionary need” of workers, consumers and the environment arising from the production and use of synthetic nanomaterials. The matrix is a tool to help trade and industry meet their obligations of care and self-monitoring.
British Standards suggests asking the following questions about the engineered nanomaterial to assess the exposures that people may have to the material:
- “What are the tasks where people can be exposed to nanoparticles (e.g. production, cleaning, maintenance, transport and storage)?
- Who can be exposed during each task? The individual undertaking the task, adjacent workers, visitors, contractors, managersand others might be exposed.
- What are the potential routes of human exposure (e.g. inhalation, ingestion and dermal penetration)?
- What is the chance of the exposure occurring? Consider routine work, accidental releases and maintenance (not just during normal activities).
- How often is exposure liable to occur (e.g. continuous over a working shift, intermittent, rarely)?
- What levels are people exposed to and for how long? This might require monitoring.
- Can the nanomaterials be present in the ambient air or on the surfaces of the workplace, or other locations where people could be exposed?
- Which control measures can be applied for each task? These can include segregation of personnel from the source by enclosing them or the process,or by ventilation, training and PPE.”2
1. Environmental Defense-DuPont Nano Partnership, “Nano Risk Framework,” at 25 (June 21, 2007)
2. British Standards, Guide to safe handling and disposal of manufactured nanomaterials,” PD 6699-2:2007, at 9-10 (Dec. 31, 2007). (PD 6699-2:2007 provides guidance and recommendations only. The document “should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading.” Finally, PD6699-2:2007 “is not be regarded as a British Standard.”)