Engineered Nanomaterials

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TABLE OF Contents

Executive Summaryii.

I. Introduction1

II. Objective2

III. WHMIS and Its Application to Nanomaterials2

IV. Risk Assessment and Management and Its Application to Nanomaterials3

i. Exposure Control4

ii. Elimination or Substitution5

iii. Isolation and Engineering Controls6

iv. Ventilation6

v. Administrative Controls7

vi. Employee Training8

vii. Labelling and Storage8

viii. Personal Protective Equipment8

ix. Respirators10

V. Applicable Legislation/Standards and Nanomaterials11

i. Responsibilities of the Stakeholders13

VI. Where do we stand?15

VII. Conclusion16



The purpose of this report is to examine the Canadian OHS system and its application in relation to engineered nanomaterials and protecting workers. Engineered nanomaterials are a relatively new material in the industry and therefore the information regarding this in the industry is very limited. Due to this, there are limited regulations; however, as more information becomes available regarding the hazards of this material, regulations and protective actions will increase. Nonetheless, it is not ideal for the community to wait and not react to this new material until the government sets further regulations. As an employer duty of care is very important, it is imperative that the organization take appropriate steps to the best of their ability to protect their workers. Exposure to nanomaterials in the workplace can occur via three methods; inhalation, dermal (skin) contact, and ingestion. Employers must take actions to limit the possibility of harm done from nanomaterials; where it is necessary for their employees to work with these materials. Employers can do this in the following ways which will be detailed below: exposure controls, elimination / substitution (where possible), isolation and engineered controls, ventilation, administrative controls, employee training, labelling and storage, personal protective equipment, and respirators.

Internal responsibility is essential so that everyone in the organization is updated and educated with the most recent information on health and safety of nanomaterials. And whether or not nanotechnology is indeed the next industrial revolution, nanotechnology has a wide range of applications and it will not disappear any time soon.  

I. Introduction

Gone are 'the bigger, better' days. Welcome to the new trend in size – small is the new big. It started off with Richard Feynman in 1959, later coined by Norio Taniguchi and finally in the mid-1980s, when K. Eric Drexler brought it to public recognition (Hester & Harrison, 2007). Now, both academic and business worlds are coveting to be part of this new trend: nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale (Shatskin, 2008). A particle can be described as a nano if the structure is between 1nm to 100nm in size (Park, 2007).  As a result, nanomaterials can have “nano properties” in one, two or three-dimensions (Park, 2007). This is one of the reasons that sparked the initial interest in nanotechnology: the particles at nanoscales exhibit different behaviour and properties than they would at ‘bulk’ scale. Nanomaterials have a wide range of characteristics. Compared to larger particles of the same weight, nanoscale particles have larger surface area – this means nanoscale particles are much more reactive (Shatskin, 2008). Other characteristics of nanoscale particles include high activity, catalytic surface, adsorbent, and prone to agglomeration (Park, 2007).

But are nanomaterials and the application of nanotechnology safe? Nanotechnology is still an emerging innovation. The risks and hazards of engineered nanomaterials are uncertain. Despite this uncertainty, nanotechnology is ubiquitous. From skincare, weight loss drugs to clothes,...
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