PD ISO TR 12885: 2008

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PD ISO/TR 12885:2008

Nanotechnologies. Health and safety practices in occupational settings relevant to nanotechnologies

Status : Current   Published : March 2009



Visit the Nanotechnologies websitePD ISO/TR 12885:2008 Nanotechnologies. Health and safety practices in occupational settings relevant to nanotechnologies

BS ISO/TR 12885 is a technical report based on current information about nanotechnologies, including characterization, health effects, exposure assessments, and control practices.

BS ISO/TR 12885 is broadly applicable across a range of nanomaterials and applications. It provides information relevant to companies, researchers, workers and anyone involved in nanomaterials and nanotechnology development, with the aim of preventing adverse health and safety consequences resulting from exposure during the production, handling, use and disposal of manufactured nanomaterials. This advice is broadly applicable across a range of nanomaterials and applications.

Dr. Peter Hatto, Chair of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 229, Nanotechnologies, comments:

"The introduction of new engineered nanomaterials into the workplace raises questions concerning occupational safety and health that should be addressed, as appropriate, by international standards. While such standards are being developed, it is important, through ISO/TR 12885:2008, to assemble and make available to users, useful knowledge on occupational safety and health practices in the context of nanotechnologies."

BS ISO/TR 12885 will be revised and updated and new safety standards will be developed as knowledge increases and experience is gained in the course of technological advance.

The field of nanotechnologies is advancing rapidly and is expected to impact on virtually every facet of global industry and society. International standardization on nanotechnologies should contribute to realizing the potential of this technology for the betterment and sustainability of our world through economic development, improving the quality of life, and for improving and protecting public health and the environment.

New engineered nanomaterials are already appearing in the market place and work place, and will continue to do so. The introduction of these new materials into the workplace raises questions concerning occupational safety and health that should be addressed, as appropriate, by international standards. While such standards are being developed, this Technical Report is available to users, and provides useful knowledge on occupational safety and health practices in the context of nanotechnologies.

Nanotechnology involves materials with dimensions and/or structure in the nanoscale, i.e. the size range from approximately 1 nm to 100 nm (see DD CEN ISO/TS 27687:2008 Nanotechnologies. Terminology and definitions for nano- objects. Nanoparticle, nanofibre and nanoplate). A nanometer is 1 x 10-9 m or one millionth of a millimeter. To give a sense of this scale, a human hair is of the order of 10,000 to 100,000 nm, a single red blood cell has a diameter of around 5,000 nm, viruses typically have a maximum dimension of 10 to 100 nm and a DNA molecule has a diameter of around 2 nm.

The term “nanotechnology” can be misleading since it does not describe a single technology or scientific discipline. Rather it is a multidisciplinary grouping of physical, chemical, biological, engineering, and electronic processes, materials, applications and concepts in which the defining characteristic is the control of critical dimensions in the nanoscale.

The distinct and unique properties of nanomaterials offer the promise of broad advances for a wide range of technologies in fields as diverse as computers, biomedicine, and energy. Articles appear daily in the scientific and popular press and on a host of websites dedicated to the field. New companies (often arising from university research departments) are being formed and are finding no shortage of investors willing to back their ideas and products. New materials are being discovered or produced and astonishing claims are being made concerning their properties, behaviours and applications.

As of January, 2009, over 800 nano-enabled new products are listed in an inventory of products already utilizing nanotechnology compiled by the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies:


Another list of products can also be found on U. S. National Nanotechnology Initiative website at www.nano.gov/html/facts/appsprod.html.

While there is currently much "hype” around nanotechnologies, there is no doubt that worldwide, governments and major industrial companies are committing significant resources (>$10BN in 2008) for research into the development of nanometer scale processes, materials and products.

Ordinary materials such as carbon or silicon, when reduced to the nanoscale, often exhibit novel and unexpected characteristics such as extraordinary strength, chemical reactivity, electrical conductivity, or other characteristics that the same material does not possess at the micro or macro-scale. A huge range of nanomaterials has already been produced including nanotubes, nanowires, and fullerene derivatives (bucky balls).

A few engineered nanomaterials were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, at a time when the word “nanotechnology” had yet to be introduced. Among such nanomaterials are zeolites, catalyst supports such as MgCl, pigments and active fillers such as carbon black and synthetic amorphous silica. Market size of these commodity materials is well above the billion US dollars or million tons threshold.

Nanotechnologies are gaining in new commercial application. Nanomaterials are currently being used in electronic, magnetic and optoelectronic, biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, energy, catalytic and materials applications. Areas producing the greatest revenue for nanomaterials are chemical-mechanical polishing, magnetic recording tapes, sunscreens, automotive catalyst supports, electro-conductive coatings and optical fibres.

The occupational health and safety effects of nanomaterials are mostly unknown. This can be attributed to the relatively recent development of the sector and, as a result, the lack of available information on human and environmental exposure. In addition, differentiating between naturally occuring or "incidental" nanomaterials and those that are deliberately manufactured, presents significant challenges. Consequently, our abilities to predict the impact of some nanomaterials exposures on worker health are limited at this time. In particular our abilities to measure nanoparticles in the workplace (or more generally) are limited by current technologies.

Nanotechnology presents us with new challenges as the properties of nanomaterials may depend on size and shape as much as on the more conventional factors of chemical structure and composition. Measuring these additional attributes will be necessary to assess nanomaterials in the workplace. In addition, the capability of the human body to recognize and appropriately respond to most nanomaterials is at present, unknown. On the other hand, in the case of some nanostructured materials, such as carbon black and synthetic amorphous silica, toxicologic and epidemiologic data are available.

There are many gaps in current science with regards to identifying, characterizing, and evaluating potential occupational exposures to nanomaterials. These gaps in our knowledge will best be addressed by a multidisciplinary approach. Occupational health practitioners and human and environmental toxicologists have vital roles to play in safeguarding health in this fast-moving field. Collaborative studies - ideally with international coordination - are essential in order to provide the critical information required within a reasonable time frame.

Contents of BS ISO/TR 12885 include:

  • Introduction
  • Scope
  • Bibliography
  • Nanomaterials: description and manufacturing
  • Engineered nanomaterials
  • Carbon containing nanomaterials
  • Oxides
  • Metals
  • Quantum dots
  • Organic polymeric nanomaterials
  • Bio-inspired nanomaterials
  • Production processes.
  • Typical production processes
  • Aerosol generation methods
  • Vapor deposition methods
  • Colloidal/self-assembly methods
  • Electrodeposition
  • Electro-spinning
  • Attrition methods
  • Hazard characterization
  • Health effects
  • Basic principles and uncertainties
  • Potential relevance of health effects information about incidental or naturally-occurring nanoparticles and nanofibers
  • Relationship between toxicity and surface area, surface chemistry, and particle number
  • Inflammatory response to nanoparticles
  • Animal and cell-culture studies
  • Observations from epidemiological studies involving fine and nanoscale particles
  • Physical hazards
  • Fire (exothermic events)
  • Safety considerations in manufacturing nanomaterials
  • Exposure assessment to nanomaterials
  • Scientific framework for assessing exposure to nanomaterials
  • Routes of exposure
  • Metric for assessing exposure to airborne nanomaterials
  • Assigned protection factors (APFs) for respirators (from USACHPPM 55-011-1106)
  • A comparison of past and present APFs
  • Advantages and disadvantages of different types of Air-Purifying Particulate
  • Respirators - using information from the U. S. NIOSH Respirator Selection Logic
  • Symbols and abbreviated terms

Standard NumberPD ISO/TR 12885:2008
TitleNanotechnologies. Health and safety practices in occupational settings relevant to nanotechnologies
Publication Date31 March 2009
Cross ReferencesBS EN 529:2005, EN 141:2000, EN 149:2001, ANSI Z88.2:1992
International RelationshipsISO/TR 12885:2008 Ed 1
DescriptorsNanotechnology, Dangerous materials, Protective clothing, Safety measures, Physiological effects (human body), Nanoparticles, Occupational safety, Hazards, Risk assessment, Particulate materials, Nanomaterials, Respirators
Title in FrenchNanotechnologies. Pratiques de sécurité dans les arrangements professionnels relatifs aux nanotechnologies
Title in GermanNanotechnologien. Gesundheits- und Sicherheitsvorkehrungen an Arbeitsstätten in Bezug auf Nanotechnologien
ISBN978 0 580 64882 3
File Size1.64 MB

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