WASHINGTON, DCNew methods and tools for measuring exposure to airborne engineered nanomaterials will be required to protect the health of workers in nanotechnology-related jobs estimated to total 10 million people by 2014according to two occupational health experts writing in the inaugural issue of the journal Nanotoxicology.
The article, "Assessing Exposure to Airborne Nanomaterials: Current Abilities and Future Requirements," written by Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor at the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, and Robert Aitken, director of strategic consulting at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (Edinburgh, UK), can be viewed online at http://www.nanotoxicology.net.
"Airborne engineered nanomaterials present complex exposure measurement challenges," Maynard said. "Conventional approachesmeasuring the mass of airborne materialwill not always be sufficient. This presents a challenge because studies have indicated that, on a mass-for-mass basis, certain nanometer-scale particles may be more toxic than larger particles with a similar composition. In other words, smaller particles may be more harmful than conventional thinking would lead us to believe."
Maynard and Aitken reduced the incredibly diverse set of possible engineered nanoparticles into nine distinct categories, ranging from very simple spherical particles to complex multifunctional particles. By pairing these categories with particle properties associated with potential health effects, they teased out possible monitoring approaches for each particle-property combination.
"What our analysis shows is that in the complex new 'nano world' there is no single or simple method for monitoring nanoaerosol exposures in order to assess and manage potential health effects," Aitken explained. "There are instruments that present partial solutions to the measurement challenges we face. But at the end of t
Contact: Sharon McCarter
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies