Last week the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requested comments on its Strategic Plan for NIOSH Nanotechnology Research and Guidance: Filling the Knowledge Gaps (Strategic Plan). NIOSH intends the Strategic Plan “to provide a tool for coordinating nanotechnology research across the Institute and to provide a guide for enhancing the development of new research efforts that will respond to the challenges of working with a new technology.” According to NIOSH, the Strategic Plan “represents a cohesive, multidimensional, and timely research agenda for addressing knowledge gaps concerning possible worker exposures to nanomaterials, the health risks from such exposure, and development of control technology and prevention measures.” Comments are due June 1, 2008.
The goals for NIOSH nanotechnology research are as follows:
- Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses;
- Conduct research to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses by applying nanotechnology products;
- Promote healthy workplaces through interventions, recommendations, and capacity building; and
- Enhance global workplace safety and health through national and international collaborations on nanotechnology research and guidance.
The NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) identified ten critical research areas that will be used to address the strategic goals:
- Exposure assessment;
- Toxicity and internal dose;
- Epidemiology and surveillance;
- Risk assessment;
- Measurement methods;
- Engineering controls and personal protective equipment;
- Fire and explosion safety;
- Recommendations and guidance;
- Communication and information; and
The NTRC efforts are organized according to the ten critical research areas. NIOSH will identify and characterize hazards, assess exposure, characterize risk, and develop risk management guidance through targeted research in each of the critical areas.