Am I exposed to nanomaterials?

One can be exposed to a chemical substance in the workplace by swallowing it, via skin contact or by inhalation. Inhalation is considered to be the major route of exposure to nanomaterials. The risk of exposure to synthetic nanomaterials is deemed negligible in the case that they are used solely in closed systems, in the case where products that are used with nanomaterials are enclosed in a firm (cured) matrix, or in the case where products are manufactured using nanotechnology but without nanomaterials.

Exposure to nanomaterials can occur in cases where the manufacturing process is not fully closed, during handling of nanopowders, when working with dispersions of nanomaterials, and when machining (e.g. sanding) products with nanomaterials enclosed in a firm (cured) matrix.  

Qualitative and quantitative methods to determine exposure

The degree of exposure needs to be established, if nanomaterial exposure can occur at the workplace. Qualitative as well as quantitative methods are available to do so. Specific, individual measurements are preferable, but, if these data are lacking, one can use data from workplaces that are comparable in working conditions and in nanomaterials used. The comparability of nanomaterials is, however, still under debate. You can contact Nanocentre for more information.

Finally qualitative methods are available to estimate exposure to nanomaterials. The methods can be used to characterise exposure at the workplace and to demonstrate the presence of synthetic nanomaterials. In this way you gain insight into those processes at work which likely present the biggest risk of exposure and thus need to be prioritized in the implementation of control measures of nanomaterials. 

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