IOM delivers comprehensive review of exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials

27.06.2018

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are in many everyday products. Because of their size, they have interesting properties, and can be found in electrical appliances, medicines, cleaning products, cosmetics, paints and building materials, textiles and pollution control applications.

Considering the everyday usage of ENMs, the information about pathway exposure risks to them other than inhalation is, in fact, limited, leaving workers across the world at increased risk for potential adverse health effects.

IOM funded a systematic literature review to assess the relevance of the different routes and forms of exposure that concern the protection of workers during the manufacture, handling, or end-use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The unique review includes explicit assessments of the quality of the available data intending to support the WHO in its effort to provide recommendations for policy makers and health and safety professionals on how to best protect workers from the potential risks of engineered nanomaterials.

One hundred and seven studies were identified during the review process, reporting 424 individual exposure assessments.

The results suggest that for workers in the manufacture, handling or end-use of ENMs all three routes of exposure (i.e. inhalation, dermal and ingestion) are of relevance.

In general, the route and the form of exposure appear to depend mainly on the nano-activity (i.e. process and operational conditions) involved, rather than just the type of the ENM, which is in line with observations for other substances at work.

Whenever inhalation exposure occurs, there is an increased likelihood for dermal/ingestion exposure to occur. This is mainly due to surface deposition and transfer resulting from ENMs release to the workplace environment.

These results can be used to provide first indications of the likelihood of exposure and guidance for exposure controls in workplaces.

The review was carried out by Ioannis Basinas, Araceli Sánchez Jiménez, Karen S Galea, Martie van Tongeren and Fintan Hurley. 

Click to read more in Annals of Work Exposures and Health.

About the Author
Dr Ioannis Basinas Senior Scientist

Ioannis is an exposure scientist and chartered statistician with a background in epidemiology, working as a Senior Scientist in IOM's Research Division. His research activities focus primarily on the assessment of human exposure to dangerous substances including bio-aerosols, inorganic dusts, pesticides, nanomaterials and other chemical agents both in support of regulatory and epidemiological research.  Ioannis has substantial experience on the assessment of exposure to organic dusts and the related health risks particularly among agricultural working populations and a strong interest on the use of statistical modelling as a method for improving quantitative exposure and risk assessment for population studies. Recent activities, among others, include research aiming to characterise levels of exposure to pesticide in workplaces, the improvement of methodologies available for pesticide exposure in occupational epidemiological research, evaluation exercises of the exposure tools used within REACH, the exposure assessment for a study of cognitive impairment in former English professional footballers, and the evaluation of trends in exposure to dangerous substances at an EU level. Ioannis won the Thomas Bedford Memorial Prize in 2018.

Contact details:

Qualifications:

  • PhD in Medicine (Specialization: Occupational epidemiology and hygiene)
  • MSc in Toxicology and Environmental Epidemiology
  • BSc in Environmental sciences

Committee and Society Memberships:

  • Royal Statistical Society: Chartered Statistician (CStat)  

Research Interests:

  • Quantitative exposure assessment
  • Statistical modeling of exposure
  • Assessment of health risks
  • Exposure control and prevention
  • Intervention studies