IOM delivers comprehensive review of exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials27.06.2018
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.