Nanomaterials are any solid superatomic materials with at least one dimension (length, width, or depth) between one and 100 nanometers (nm). This size range (1-100 nm) is referred to as “nanoscale”. Nanomaterials can exhibit unique physical and chemical properties not seen in larger molecules of the same composition, properties described later in this Chapter. Substantial private and public investments are flowing into the exploration and development of products that can take advantage of the unique properties of nanomaterials. Researchers and EHS staff must consider the potential health, safety, and environmental risks that might result during this research and development boom caused by the promise of nanotechnology.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a strategic plan and research agenda to address the health and safety of nanomaterials. Consult their Nanotechnology Page for more information.