Safe handling of engineered nanomaterials: Turning knowledge into practice
Protecting occupational health is one of the most important aspects of achieving the responsible development of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), especially because workers are often among the first to be potentially exposed to these novel materials. Paul Schulte and colleagues in 2014 were the first to provide specific criteria that organizations may use to help guide responsible nanotechnology development. With these criteria in mind, we evaluate how one research institute has responded to the challenge of handling ENMs in a responsible manner. This effort demonstrates the transition from theory to practice in a workplace setting. Using Schulte et al.’s criteria as a basis, we demonstrate the practical underpinnings of managing ENMs in a workplace setting including the ability to (1) anticipate, identify, and track ENMs in the workplace; (2) assess and communicate hazards and risks to workers; (3) manage occupational health risks; and (4) foster the safe development of nanotechnology and the realization of societal and commercial benefits. In addition, we note remaining challenges pertaining to handling of ENMs and identify four critical research needs to close these information gaps design.