UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the leaders in research devoted to nanotechnology. Currently, there is limited occupational safety information on nanoparticles and nanomaterials in the university research environment. The Department of Environment, Health & Safety wants to ensure that employees using nanotechnology are aware of the potential hazards and risks involved and the control measures that should be utilized to limit exposures. The UNC-CH Nanotechnology Safety Policy proactively addresses the safety issues in the emerging field of nanotechnology and ensures that University employees performing nanotechnology research are aware of the potential hazards and risks involved and the control measures that should be utilized to limit exposures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have published a pamphlet on Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace. If you perform nanotechnology research please review and discuss with your principal investigator and colleagues. The pamphlet will inevitably generate additional questions regarding proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) specific to the nanotechnology research your laboratory performs. The Department of Environment, Health & Safety has generated a Summary of Recommended Nanomaterial Risk Levels that will help when addressing these issues and performing a risk assessment on your specific research.
Several additional nanotechnology safety resources are also listed below. If you have further questions or would like a workplace nanotechnology safety evaluation please contact Chemical Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UNC-CH Nanotechnology Safety Policy
- Nanotechnology Safety Training
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Working Safely With Nanomaterials
- 2012 NIOSH Report: General Safe Practices for Working with Engineered Nanomaterials in Research Laboratories
Summary of Recommended Nanomaterial Risk Levels (NRL)
|NRL||Type of Nanomaterial||Practices||Engineering Controls||Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)|
|1||Polymer matrix||Standard Laboratory Practices including:
||Fume hood or biological safety cabinet (Class II Type A1, A2 vented via a thimble connection, B1 or B2)||Standard PPE (lab coat, gloves, safety glasses with side shields)|
|2||Liquid dispersion||NRL-1 practice plus:
||Fume hood or biological safety cabinet (Class II Type A1, A2 vented via a thimble connection, B1 or B2) or approved vented enclosure (e.g., Flow Sciences vented balance safety enclosure [VBSE])||NRL-1 practice plus:
|3||Dry powders or aerosols||NRL-2 practice plus:
||Fume hoodor biological safety cabinet (Class II Type A1, A2 vented via a thimble connection, B1 or B2) or approved vented enclosure (e.g., Flow Sciences vented balance safety enclosure [VBSE]). HEPA filtered exhaust preferred for fume hoods containing particularly “dusty” operations.||NRL-2 practice plus:
|4||Dry Powders or aerosols of parent materials with known toxicity or hazards||NRL-3 practice plus:
||Fume hood or biological safety cabinet (Class II Type B1 or B2) or glove box or approved vented enclosure (e.g., Flow Sciences vented balance safety enclosure [VBSE]). HEPA filtered exhaust with Bag-In/Bag-Out capability preferred for hoods, BSCs, and gloveboxes.||NRL-3 practice plus:
- Good Nano Guide
The GoodNanoGuide is a collaboration platform designed to enhance the ability of experts to exchange ideas on how best to handle nanomaterials in an occupational setting. It is meant to be an interactive forum that fills the need for up-to-date information about current good workplace practices, highlighting new practices as they develop.
The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) provides an online “virtual journal” linking to abstracts and some articles on recent scientific findings related to the environmental health and safety benefits and risks of nanomaterials.
- NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Nanotechnology
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the leading federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. The agency has released several guidance documents related to nanotechnology safety.
- OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Nanotechnology
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation in the U.S. under the Department of Labor. The website provides safety and health information and specifies standards that are relevant to nanotechnology.
- Nanotoolkit: Working Safely With Engineered Nanomaterials in Academic Research Settings
A document from the California Nanosafety Consortium of Higher Education that outlines best practices, standards and guidelines to using engineered nanomaterials in an academic research setting.
- Enviro-Health Links: Nanotechnology and Human Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health and Toxicology Specialized Information Services: Resources on nanotechnology, the environment, and human health.