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!
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:
- Measuring and Assessing Emissions of Nanomaterials from Processes
- Safe handling and use of carbon nanotubes in the workplace information sheet
- Emissions of Nanomaterials during Machine Processes
- Safety Hazards of engineered nanomaterials
- Classification of Carbon Nanotubes as Hazardous Chemicals
- Assessing and Controlling Laser Printer Particle Emissions in Workplace Environments
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.