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Risk Management in the Research Environment

Research is a very diverse environment where the volume of material in use is typically small and the level of hazard of a nanomaterial could be well known or unknown. If the hazard of a nanomaterial is high or unknown, conservative practices should be employed to minimize exposure of the researcher. If the hazard of the nanomaterial is low, less stringent controls may be necessary to limit exposure, but processing the nanomaterial may change the surface properties and increase hazard. Thus, different precautions and control measures may be necessary when 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.

Research includes a wide range of activities that include inventing or discovering new nanostructures to integrating nanomaterials into more complex macroscopic structures. In research, it is assumed that the volume of materials will be very small, but in the case of new nanostructures, the hazards may not be well understood. Potential operations in research include: