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NIOSH Report Highlights Nanotechnology Research Progress

NIOSH has released a new progress report detailing the work by its Nanotechnology Research Center in advancing the scientific knowledge on the occupational safety and health implications of engineered nanoparticles.

The document, Progress Toward Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace, also suggests potential areas where future research could further expand this knowledge.

"From the beginning, NIOSH has been at the forefront of using research to engage issues that our stakeholders agree are critical for maintaining U.S. leadership in the international nanotechnology market," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "This report highlights the great progress we have made in just a few years and helps lay out the path of where we should head next."

Nanotechnologies are increasingly being used in a variety of applications, including electronics, medical imaging and cosmetics. Due to the extremely small size and large surface area of engineered nanoparticles, it is important to conduct research to fully understand the chemical, physical, and biological properties these particles have compared with their larger counterparts.

NIOSH is a recognized leader with diverse partners in conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. Through its internal, interdisciplinary research center, NIOSH investigators have laid the groundwork for conducting critical research on providing safe nanotechnology in the workplace.

The goals of NIOSH's work are:

  • Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Conduct research on the application of nanotechnology for the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Promote healthy workplaces through interventions, recommendations and capacity building.
  • Enhance global workplace safety and health through national and international collaborations on nanotechnology research and guidance.

Accomplishments noted in the report include the development of new resources to meet stakeholders' requests for interim guidance on prudent workplace practices, substantial contributions to the scientific literature in disciplines critical for understanding occupational health and safety implications, and key roles in facilitating the international scientific discussion.

The report can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-123.
For more information about NIOSH nanotechnology research, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is nanotechology?

A: The term nanotechnology refers to the manipulation of matter on the scale of the nano-meter (one billionth of a meter). The goal of nanotechnology is to control individual atoms and molecules to create computer chips and other devices that are thousands of times smaller than current technologies permit.

Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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