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 research.
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 www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/nanotech/ .