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NIOSH To Form Field Research Team for Partnerships in Studying, Assessing Nanotechnology Processes

December 28, 2005
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will form an interdisciplinary field team of NIOSH researchers in the area of nanotechnology. The team will partner with employers and others in conducting field studies to observe and assess occupational health and safety practices in facilities where nanotechnology processes and applications are used.

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., invited NIOSH scientists and engineers through an all-hands email on Dec. 27, 2005, to participate in the effort. The NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team will include research team leaders who will be on detail from their usual duties for approximately 30 to 60 days at a time, and interdisciplinary field researchers representing areas such as industrial hygiene, engineering, occupational medicine, and risk assessment. Interdisciplinary researchers will participate in specific aspects of field evaluations in short-term rotations of a few days to one week.

“This systematic effort builds on the start that NIOSH has already made, on a more informal basis, in establishing research partnerships with some companies and institutions in the nanotechnology field,” Dr. Howard notes. “Through this approach, NIOSH can better respond to requests from industry and other stakeholders for practical, effective guidance in designing and maintaining safe nanotechnology operations, based on first-hand collaborative observations and sound research data.”

The function of the field team will be to assess and obtain insight on materials, processes, current and potential worker exposures, work practices, control procedures, and medical monitoring in operations where nanomaterials are developed or utilized. The information and insight obtained by the team will be used by NIOSH to periodically update “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology,” an interim, on-line NIOSH guidance document, and to create a worker exposure database.

NIOSH posted “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology” in October 2005 in response to requests for interim guidance from industry and other stakeholders, while research continues for answering key questions about the occupational health implications of nanotechnology. The guidance document is available at .

The effort is part of NIOSH’s strategic research program on the occupational safety and health applications and implications of nanotechnology. More information on the research program, including information on contacting NIOSH with questions and comments, is available at .