On November 13, 2006, the International Council for Nanotechnology (ICON) published its recent survey results: “A Review of Current Practices in the Nanotechnology Industry.”  While the authors of the study admit the size of their survey was too small to provide statistically significant results, the article, nonetheless, provided insightful information on current global nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety practices (EHS).

The data presented regarding North American participants in the survey was particularly interesting.  Of 25 North American respondents, 21 offered their employees broad EHS training, while 18 offered nano-specific EHS programs. This training was most often in a classroom setting conducted by internal sources, using existing scientific literature as sources of health and safety information.  Beyond nano-related EHS training, the survey found that 19 of the North American respondents used fume hoods to contain possible nano-particle exposure; 16 used glove boxes; 13 used clean rooms; 12 used separate HVAC systems; 6 used closed piping systems; 7 used biological safety cabinets; and 5 used air pressure differentials.  Finally, 4 of the North American entities conducted their own nano-toxicology testing.

A lack of definitive scientific information regarding the potential health risks of nanotechnology was pointed to as the biggest hindrance to the further development of nano-EHS training and control.