Manufacturing - Overview - EHS Text

Nanotechnology manufacturing was reviewed with regard to the health risks occurring as a result of respiratory exposure to nanoparticles of workers and consumers. The basis for the evaluation was “Stoffenmanager Nano” application [1,2] a risk-banding tool developed for employers and employ­ees to prioritise health risks occurring as a result of respiratory exposure to nanoparticles for a broad range of worker scenarios.

The respiratory route is the main route of exposure for many occupational scenarios, while the oral route of exposure is considered minor and sufficiently covered, from a safety point of view, by good hygiene practices established in production facilities as prescribed through general welfare provisions in national health and safety legislation in EU countries [3]. In view of the nature of the products in this sector, oral exposure of consumers is also considered to be minor.

Nano-specific systemic toxicity via the skin is considered to be improbable in this sector as the nanoparticles as are very unlikely to penetrate it. The dermal route may be the main route of exposure for some substances or exposure situations, and cause local effects on the skin or systemic effects after absorption into the body [4]. However, nanoparticles as such are very unlikely to penetrate the skin [5] and consequently nano-specific systemic toxicity via the dermal route is improbable. Therefore, when evaluating risks from nanotechnology for the respiratory route, the most important aspects of occupational and consumer safety are covered.

The majority of the materials considered have a high priority (combined ranking of exposure and hazard), indicating the need to apply exposure control methods or to assess the risks more precisely. Copper indium gallium arsenide, copper oxide, graphene, multi-walled and single-walled carbon nanotubes, nickel monoxide, crystalline silicon dioxide and vanadium pentoxide are of the highest priority ranking across all production methods considered here. Calcium carbonate, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and zirconium dioxide showed the lowest priority profiles of the materials considered, although for some production methods most are still ranked as being of the highest priority.

1 Marquart, H., Heussen, H., Le Feber, M., Noy, D., Tielemans, E., Schinkel, J., West, J., Van Der Schaaf, D., 2008. 'Stoffenmanager', a web-based control banding tool using an exposure process model. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 52, 429-441.

2 Van Duuren-Stuurman, B., Vink, S., Verbist, K.J.M., Heussen, H.G.A., Brouwer, D., Kroese, D.E.D., Van Niftrik, M.F.J., Tielemans, E., Fransman, W., 2012. Stoffenmanager Nano version 1.0: a web-based tool for risk prioritization of airborne manufactured nano objects. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 56, 525-541.

3 ECHA, 2012. Chapter R.14: Occupational exposure estimation in: Anonymous Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment., Version: 2.1 ed. European Chemicals Agency, Helsinki, Finland.

4 Ibid

5 Watkinson, A.C., Bunge, A.L., Hadgraft, J., Lane, M.E., 2013. Nanoparticles do not penetrate human skin - A theoretical perspective. Pharm. Res. 30, 1943-1946

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