Does #Nanotechnology pose a risk to our #health?

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Assessing and measuring exposure to nanoparticles is not something I have done in my career to date, so in an attempt to figure out all that I don’t know, I recently attended a seminar presented by Dr Howard Morris from Safe Work Australia and Peter McGarry from Workplace Health & Safety Queensland (WHSQ) on the topic.

It was a fantastic seminar (side note: keep up to date with the various seminars and events from the AIOH here!) and I learnt that there are a number of (very) useful guides that have been developed on nanotechnology in the Workplace. I also got to measure the amount of nanoparticles that were present in the middle of George St, Sydney…double bonus!

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Like most other occupational hazards, the same assessment process exists. That being you need to identify the hazards, assess the risks; implement precautions; supervise and maintain controls; monitor exposure etc etc. To assist, WHSQ is implementing the Queensland nanotechnology work health and safety program as part of a national program facilitated by Nanotechnology and Work Health and Safety (Safe Work Australia). You can find out more about it here.

Safe Work Australia’s Nanotechnology work is Australia-focused, but also contributes to global efforts on nanotechnology work health and safety. Their focus areas are to:

  • Ensure nanotechnology is covered appropriately within the Work Health and Safety Regulatory Framework;
  • Improve understanding of the hazardous properties of engineered nanomaterials;
  • Assess the effectiveness of workplace controls in preventing exposure to engineered nanomaterials;
  • Develop procedures for detecting and measuring emissions exposure in workplaces;
  • Provide information and guidance for Australian nanotechnology organizations; and
  • Ensure consistency with international approaches & contributing to international work.

There are a number of very useful information sheets freely available on the SWA website which provide a great deal of information to get you off to a good start such as:

In addition, WHSQ have useful information such as a register and a nanomaterial control banding tool worksheet that are available for use.

Overall I left this seminar knowing a lot more about these little particles than I did before. I’m by no-means an expert, so if you have consulted the information above, and you still need help, consider contacting your friendly occupational hygienist. The AIOH has a consultant directory here.

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