Self-cleaning surfaces, glowing wallpaper, miniaturized data storage devices: the possibilities frequently described for nanotechnology read like a wish-list for life in the future. Research and development is in progress throughout the world by bodies aiming for a presence on this market. Potential risks to health must also be considered. Standardized measurement and assessment methods are of great importance in this context.
Nanotechnology entails the structural characteristics of materials being miniaturised to create what have become known as “nanomaterials” (NMs). From the occupational safety and health perspective, nanomaterials capable of releasing respirable particles are particularly relevant. Fire and explosion protection issues can also play a role in risk assessment for nanomaterials. Throughout their entire lifecycle, from production, processing and application to disposal, nanomaterials pose a challenge in terms of occupational safety and health (OSH). A number of rules and regulations, OSH guides and international standardization documents address the potential risks of using nanomaterials in the workplace.
European and international standards can contribute to the harmonization and improvement of occupational safety and health worldwide by, for example, standardizing terminology and measurement, analysis and sampling techniques to supplement legislation. In principle, however, it is also possible that provisions set out in standards might conflict with those of European or national OSH legislation.
The KAN Study on "Standardization in nanotechnology - Status review and reuqirements analysis from the occupational safety and health perspective" was published in May 2017 and can be downloaded here (in German, summary in English).