The Toxicology Section at the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), recently hosted a workshop on Exposure Assessment to Nanoparticles.
This workshop was held at the Sunnyside Park Hotel, Johannesburg on the 2nd – 3rd October 2013 and it was the first of its kind to be held in South Africa.
International leaders in the field presented talks pertinent to occupational health and safety focusing on instrumentation and methods of measurements, importance of exposure assessment in the risk assessment of nanoparticles as well as, in their regulatory aspects and management. Case studies in the exposure assessment on specific nanoparticles in the work and research environments were also reported from developed and developing countries.
The outcomes of the workshop within these topics included:
- The importance of mass, surface area and number in the measurements of nanoparticles in the work and research environment; the importance of measurement of background concentrations of nanoparticles with the proposal of the concept of a tiered approach for the workplace exposure assessment of nanomaterials; the relevance of the assessment of nano aggregates and nano agglomerates (NOAA) in the work place in various industries, such as paint and coating, furniture, rubber, plastics, etc., including the use of Nano Reference Values (NRVs).
- The stakeholder position and research related to nano-management safety with the emphasis on workers and public education on nanotechnologies; traceability of nanomaterials with the establishment of registries in a number of European countries to keep track of nanomaterials and their exposures to workers; gaps in the EU legislative framework and in particular the problems with REACH registration with regard to nanomaterials; gaps in the Risk Assessment and Risk Analysis of nanomaterials and different approaches to establishing exposure limits (OELs) and the assessment of exposures to nanomaterials in the workplace; the precautionary principle and its application as a risk management approach considering the existing gaps in the risk assessment and analysis of nanomaterials.
- Case studies on exposure assessment to nanoparticles in the workplace and research environment in Korea and in South Africa.
The discussion on the need for innovation using nanomaterials as an economic and social empowerment tool in developing countries, global concerns for risks associated with occupational exposures, as well as the subsequent international collaborative efforts on nanoparticle exposure, protocols, government initiatives and risk assessment were some of the highlights of the workshop.
The workshop also provided the opportunity for the delegates to socialise and also established the platform for local scientists to network with overseas researchers.