The National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today issued interim guidance
for medical screening and hazard surveillance for workers potentially exposed
to engineered nanoparticles.
The NIOSH recommendations in “Current Intelligence Bulletin 60: Interim
Guidance for the Medical Screening and Hazard Surveillance for Workers Potentially
Exposed to Engineered Nanoparticles,” are available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-116/.
The recommendations respond to ongoing interest by employers and other stakeholders
in having authoritative occupational safety and health guidance in the manufacturing
and industrial use of engineered nanomaterials. The recommendations also reflect
NIOSH’s ongoing leadership in providing such interim scientific guidance
as research progresses for determining whether engineered nanomaterials pose
risks for adverse occupational health effects.
“Leaders in business, the health community, and public policy have widely
agreed on the need for prudent occupational safety and health strategies in
the growing nanotechnology industry,” said NIOSH Acting Director Christine
M. Branche, Ph.D. “NIOSH is pleased to help provide scientific guidance
for such strategies, which are integral for maintaining U.S. leadership in the
global nanotechnology market.”
As interim guidance, NIOSH recommends that employers:
- Take prudent measures to control occupational exposures to engineered nanoparticles,
such as those described in an earlier NIOSH document, “Approaches to
Safe Nanotechnology: An Information Exchange with NIOSH” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/safenano/
- Conduct hazard surveillance as the basis for implementing controls, including
the identification of work tasks and processes that involve the production
and use of engineered nanoparticles.
- Continue use of established medical surveillance approaches, to flag any
increase in the frequency of adverse health effects potentially associated
with occupational exposures to engineered nanoparticles.
The NIOSH interim guidance addresses the question of whether specific medical
screening is appropriate for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles
who do not display symptoms of disease. At this time, there is insufficient
scientific and medical evidence to recommend the specific medical screening
of workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles, NIOSH concluded.
However, NIOSH added, where occupational medical screening recommendations exist
for given chemicals or bulk materials, those recommendations would be applicable
for workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles composed of those same chemicals
or bulk materials.
In the meantime, NIOSH will continue to collect and evaluate new research findings,
and will update its medical screening recommendations to reflect advances in
NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations
for occupational safety and health. It was created under the Occupational Safety
and Health Act of 1970.
NIOSH is a recognized leader in national and global research partnerships on
the occupational health and safety applications and implications of nanotechnology.
More information on NIOSH’s strategic research program, including numerous
informational, educational, and interim guidance resources, can be found at