Working with nanomaterials involves the manipulation of matter at a nanometer scale to produce new materials, structures, and devices having new properties. Engineered nanomaterial technology appears to offer significant potential for beneficial impacts in many areas, including improved disease diagnosis and treatment as well as the creation of smaller, lighter, stronger, and more efficient manufactured products.
Given the wide range of potential applications, opportunities for nanomaterials research are increasing at Missouri State University. Research is encouraged; however, the potential risks associated with engineered nanomaterials are not well defined at this time. Concerns have been raised that occupational exposure to some engineered nanomaterials can cause adverse health effects and, as with any new technology or new material, the earliest exposures will likely occur for those workers conducting discovery research in laboratories.
Two basic guidance documents have been developed internally to provide MSU researchers the best current information on engineering controls and safe work practices for working with nanomaterials in research laboratories. The intent is to offer reasonable guidance for managing the uncertainty associated with nanomaterials whose hazards have not been determined and for reducing risk of worker injury, worker ill health and negative environmental impacts to an acceptable level. These documents can be accessed by clicking the links in the left column.
Definitive regulatory guidance from agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in this area is currently very limited. Best research practices are being developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Until specific regulatory guidance becomes available, nanomaterial research at Missouri State University should be conducted in accordance with best practices outlined in the documents linked at left.