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The Risks of Working with Nanomaterials

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) recently held a meeting in Aberdeen to discuss the potential risks brought about by the growing use of nanomaterials.

The use of nanomaterials is becoming more common as they apparently can improve product qualities such as strength, durability and absorbency. As a result of this increased use, more workers in a variety of industries are being exposed to potential risk. Nanomaterials are being used in industries such as health care, including for drug treatments; and technology, for example better data storage.

However it is recognised that there are knowledge gaps about the health risks associated with their use. According to safety and health consultant Peter Murray, there is little evidence to suggest that the exposure of workers to nanoparticles has been adequately assessed.

“Nanoparticles are a special group of microscopic particles that are currently being researched and engineered into new and exciting products,” he explained. “These particles are 80,000 times smaller than a human hair.”

“It is considered that within medicine the boundaries will be moved back further with a hope of new pharmaceuticals and wound healing products," he added.

Mr Murray believes that there is a growing need for a nanoparticle occupational health strategy that reflects their growing use.

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