Nanotechnology - further reading and references

There are increasing numbers of documents and publications becoming available on the topic of nanotechnology, as more organisations are becoming aware of the possible implications.

Australia

  • Friends of the Earth Australia has begun a project to investigate the risks of nanotechnology, and is seeking the views of unions and other interested parties. The organisation has launched a separate website: Nanotechnology Project The website includes articles, background papers and links to other key sites which lead to better understanding of the issues. There are also active discussion areas to share views on nanotechnology and how the community can best respond to its risks. Friend of the Earth homepage

    Other FoE publications:
    • a report Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics: Small Ingredients, Big Risks The report and an Executive Summary can be downloaded from this page of the FOE website.  And a newer publication: Safe Sunscreen Guide  - gives brand information to choose nano-free sunscreens. This year's guide lists 25 sunscreen brands that are actively avoiding use of nanoparticles in their products. There is also a list of 16 nano-free secondary sunscreens (moisturisers, anti-ageing creams and mineral foundations).
    • An ever-increasing number of consumer products contain silver nanoparticles (cling wrap, refrigerators, washing machines, socks, tooth paste, 'Band Aids', vacuum cleaners, disinfectants). In fact, according to the consumer products inventory hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars' Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, nanosilver may be the most common nanomaterial now used in consumer products. In response to growing concerns about the toxicity risks of nanosilver, Friends of the Earth Australia has prepared a detailed background paper on nanosilver (see Media release from where the report can be downloaded) The paper outlines the threat of nanosilver to soil, water and human health. The paper also discusses regulatory issues surrounding the use of nanosilver and reviews the toxicological literature.
  • Nanosafe Australia - a group of Australian toxicologists and risk assessors, who have formed a research network to address the issues concerning the occupational and environmental health and safety of nanomaterials. Nanosafe has done some very interesting work identifying characteristics which could identify nanoparticles and materials of particular concern.
  • A report released by the Australia Institute, by nano-ethics researcher Dr Fern Wickson: What you should know about nano which echoes union concerns regarding the implications of the government's decision to develop "evidence-based policy" for nanotechnology, particularly in the light of a lack of adequate research.  Dr Wickson's report calls for greater transparency and public engagement about nanotech risks on what she calls 'the experiment that is nanoscale sciences and technologies'. 
  • The Nanomaterials page on the NICNAS website (the Federal Government Regulatory Authority for Industrial Chemicals) website, information sheets on Nanomaterials.
  • SafeWork Australia has a section: Nanotechnology and Work Health and Safety with sub-pages, including a number of Nanotechnology Publications where reports done by SafeWork are listed, the latest include:
  • From WorkSafe WA: a bulletin on Nanotechnology, [pdf] which includes advice on assessing the risks associated with nanoparticles, and using the hierarchy of controls.

International

  • The Project on Emerging Technologies (based at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) The project maintains a list of commercially available products with nanoparticles. It is updated regularly, and can be searched by product or country.    
  • The UK's Health and Safety Executive (the official UK workplace safety agency) 'horizon scanning' webpage on Nanotechnology. The webpage lists other sources of information, including a literature review.
    • In March 2009, the HSE issued guidance: Risk management of carbon nanotubes [pdf] The HSE says it: "views CNTs as being substances of very high concern. Although the recent findings only apply to some CNTs, we think a precautionary approach should be taken to the risk management of all CNTs, unless sound documented evidence is available on the hazards from breathing in CNTs. If their use cannot be avoided, HSE expects a high-level of control to be used."
    • An August 2015 review: Summary of work undertaken to assess workplace exposure and control measures during the manufacture and handling of engineered nanomaterials. One of its important findings is "Existing good hygiene control practices can be used to reduce exposure to airborne nanomaterials. It is therefore important that in any work with nanomaterials, a thorough assessment is made of all control methods to be used." The full report can be downloaded from this page
  • Hazards magazine pages on nanotechnology.
  • UK's Royal Society & Royal Academy of Engineering report Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties .
  • The US government safety research body, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has an increasing amount of information on Nanotechnology. It recently issued recommendations (News Release - November 2013) on controlling worker exposures to engineered nanomaterials during their manufacture and industrial use. The recommendations are based on technologies now applied in the industries using nanomaterials, and on control methods it says have been shown to be effective in reducing occupational exposures in other industries. Engineering controls are preferable to administrative controls and personal protective equipment for lowering worker exposures, because they are designed to remove the hazard at the source, before it comes into contact with the worker. According to the NIOSH guide, as more nanomaterials are introduced into the workplace and nano-enabled products enter the market, it is essential that producers and users of engineered nanomaterials ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

    NIOSH nanotech webpages. The page has information such as Frequently Asked Questions, as well as a short guide to nanotechnology health and safety - Nanotechnology and workplace safety and health [pdf]. Also new: Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014-102, November 2013.  
  • And from the US's OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) a useful Fact Sheet Working Safely with Nanomaterials [pdf]. The Fact Sheet has straightforward advice on how to control exposure using the hierarchy of control, information including recommended exposure standards, and several links to further information. (January 2013)
  • Evaluation and control of occupational health risks from nanoparticles [pdf] a report prepared by Thomas Schneider et al for TemaNord - the Nordic Council of Ministers. The report includes background information, information on manufacturing of nanoparticles in Nordic countries, assessment of exposure and control measures, workplace exposure data and more. 
  • The Canadian government asked the Council of Canadian Academies to look into the state of knowledge with respect to existing nanomaterial properties and their health and environmental risks, which could underpin regulatory perspectives on needs for research, risk assessment and surveillance.  The Council released a report, in July 2008: Small is Different: A Science Perspective on the Regulatory Challenges of the Nanoscale.  There is an abridged version in their Report in Focus [pdf]. 
  • The Nanotechnology Homepage of the European Commission
  • From the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) the Nanotechnology topic page

Last amended August 2015

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