, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 587-614

Airborne Nanostructured Particles and Occupational Health

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Abstract

Nanotechnology is leading to the development in many field, of new materials and devices in many fields that demonstrate nanostructure-dependent properties. However, concern has been expressed that these same properties may present unique challenges to addressing potential health impact. Airborne particles associated with engineered nanomaterials are of particular concern, as they can readily enter the body through inhalation. Research into the potential occupational health risks associated with inhaling engineered nanostructured particles is just beginning. However, there is a large body of data on occupational and environmental aerosols, which is applicable to developing an initial assessment of potential risk and risk reduction strategies. Epidemiological and pathological studies of occupational and environmental exposures to airborne particles and fibers provide information on the aerosol-related lung diseases and conditions that have been observed in humans. Toxicological studies provide information on the specific disease mechanisms, dose–response relationships, and the particle characteristics that influence toxicity, including the size, surface area, chemistry or reactivity, solubility, and shape. Potential health risk will depend on the magnitude and nature of exposures to airborne nanostructured particles, and on the release, dispersion, transformation and control of materials in the workplace. Aerosol control methods have not been well-characterized for nanometer diameter particles, although theory and limited experimental data indicate that conventional ventilation, engineering control and filtration approaches should be applicable in many situations. Current information supports the development of preliminary guiding principles on working with engineered nanomaterials. However critical research questions remain to be answered before the potential health risk of airborne nanostructured particles in the workplace can be fully addressed.

Disclaimer The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health