January 31, 2019

NIOSH Charts Nanotechnology Research Plan through 2025

NIOSH’s new nanotechnology research plan stresses the need for an “expeditious approach for controlling exposure to the continuously growing number of nanomaterials used both in science and in commerce.” Through 2025, the agency plans to fill gaps in information and knowledge related to five strategic goals that NIOSH identified in its 2013–2016 strategic plan. NIOSH intends to increase understanding of new nanomaterials and related health risks to nanomaterial workers; expand understanding of the initial hazard findings on engineered nanomaterials; support the creation of guidance materials to inform nanomaterial workers, employers, and others about hazards, risks, and risk management approaches; support epidemiologic studies for nanomaterial workers; and assess and promote national and international adherence with risk management guidance.

“The development of nanotechnology has reached a point of wide application, and numerous nanomaterials and nano-enabled products are in commerce,” the NIOSH publication reads. “Workers are among the first to have contact with (exposure to) potential health hazards from new technology and products, and their exposure to any new material is often greater than for the general population. Therefore, worker safety and health are at the core of responsible development.”

According to NIOSH, agency investigators have already identified adverse health effects in animals exposed to various engineered nanomaterials; assessed worker exposures; initiated epidemiologic research; and provided guidance on occupational exposure limits, control technologies, and medical surveillance. NIOSH’s Nanotechnology Research Center will continue to coordinate research in “critical areas” such as toxicity and internal dose, measurement methods, exposure assessment, engineering controls and personal protective equipment, and fire and explosion safety.

NIOSH’s full nanotechnology research plan for 2018–2025 is available for download from the agency’s website.