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Extramural Research

Nanotechnology and Occupational Health

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Nanotechnology has been hailed as the next technological revolution and is poised to impact on every aspect of society over the coming years. However, exploiting the unique behavior of nanomaterials and devices also introduces the potential for unforeseen impacts on human health and the environment. The successful and responsible development of nanotechnology is dependent on anticipating and minimizing potentially adverse impact on health and the environment, while maintaining public confidence in the technology. This is a daunting task, and not one that can be undertaken lightly or in isolation.

Groups working with nanomaterials in research, development, production and utilization are likely to be some of the first to face new challenges in addressing potential health impact. The development of responsible nanotechnology in the workplace will require a multidisciplinary approach to addressing risk through toxicology studies, exposure and dose assessment, exposure characterization and exposure control. While current data suggest engineered nanomaterials may present new challenges to occupational health, there are many knowledge gaps that still need to be addressed before quantitative risk assessment and management is possible. In the meantime, guidelines on working safely with engineered nanomaterials are required now, as the manufacture of nanotechnology-based products continues to increase.

This presentation will provide a broad overview of engineered nanomaterials in the context of occupational health, and will discuss progress towards developing responsible nanotechnology in the workplace.

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