Nine researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara conducted an international survey of nanomaterial firms and laboratories concerning their nano-related workplace practices.
J. Conti, et al., "Health and Safety Practices in the Nanomaterials Workplace: Results from an International Survey," Environmental Science & Technology, XXXX, xxx, 000-000.
The study was conducted by telephone and internet from June through December of 2006. Of the 357 total international invitees, 25 North American Companies elected to participate. The most pertinent survey results for the North American participants (only) follow:
Nano-specific workplace training: 88% of North American respondents provide some type of formal nano-specific EHS training for workers. Engineering controls: Only 4% of North American respondents use no engineering controls to limited possible workplace exposure to nanoscale materials, while 16% use fume hoods, and 80% use fume hoods plus some additional type of additional engineering controls. Personal protective equipment: 80% of North American respondents require the use of PPE in the nano-workplace, 8% recommend its use, and only 12% make no PPE recommendations to workers. Gloves: 88% of North American respondents require or recommend that workers wear safety gloves when handling nanoscale materials. Respirators: 44% North American respondents require workers to use respirators when handling nanoscale materials in the workplace, 12% require the use of both respirators and dust masks, 4% require the use of dust masks only, while 40% do not require the use of respirators or dust masks at all. Eye protection: 88% of North American respondents recommend the use of eye protection to their workers using nanoscale materials, only 12% make no recommendation. Monitoring: 56% of North American respondents monitor the workplace for ambient nanoparticles, while 44% do not. Disposal: 78.3% of North American respondents dispose of nanowastes as hazardous materials, while 21% do not.
As a nonscientist lawyer (and a non-pollster), the statistics regarding respirator/dust mask use and workplace air monitoring are most intriguing. It would be interesting to learn whether the entities that reported not using respirators/dust masks are the same or different from those which reported not monitoring ambient nanoparticles — and more importantly, whether either group is actually using some form of respirable nanoscale materials in the workplace. (The Society for Risk Analysis defines "respirable particle" as "particle of the size (<5.0 µm) most likely to be deposited in the pulmonary portion of the respiratory tract.)