Health Effects and Workplace Assessments and Controls
Employees who use nanomaterials in research or production processes may be exposed to nanoparticles through inhalation, dermal contact, or ingestion, depending upon how employees use and handle them. Although the potential health effects of such exposure are not fully understood at this time, scientific studies indicate that at least some of these materials are biologically active, may readily penetrate intact human skin, and have produced toxicologic reactions in the lungs of exposed experimental animals.
Current research indicates that the toxicity of engineered nanoparticles will depend on the physical and chemical properties of the particle. Engineered nanomaterials may have unique chemical and physical properties that differ substantially from those of the same material in bulk or macro-scale form. Properties that may be important in understanding the toxic effects of nanomaterials include particle size and size distribution, agglomeration state, shape, crystal structure, chemical composition, surface area, surface chemistry, surface charge, and porosity.
The resources below contain information on the potential health effects of exposure to nanomaterials and workplace exposure control methods. As part of a government-wide coordination effort, OSHA is working with other federal agencies to address issues related to the impact of nanomaterials on human health and the environment.
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