Nanotechnology Safety Resources

Low-solubility ultrafine particles are more toxic than larger particles on a mass-for-mass basis. Nanomaterials present new challenges in understanding, predicting, and managing potential health risks.

Risks

Exposure during manufacturing and use may occur through inhalation, dermal contact, and ingestion. Risks include:

  • Lung entry; once in bloodstream, could cross the blood-brain barrier
  • Catalytic effects
  • Fire or explosion

Lab Safety Guidelines for Handling Nanomaterials

Stringent controls on exposure should be enforced when working with nanomaterials. Until more knowledge becomes available, CCS provides the following guidelines and references.

(Provided by and with permission of Dr. Peter Lichty of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

  1. Use good general laboratory safety practices as found in your chemical hygiene plan. Wear gloves, lab coats, safety glasses, face shields, closed-toed shoes as needed.
  2. Be sure to consider the hazards of precursor materials in evaluating process hazards.
  3. Avoid skin contact with nanoparticles or nanoparticle-containing solutions by using appropriate personal protective equipment. Do not handle nanoparticles with your bare skin.
  4. If it is necessary to handle nanoparticle powders outside of a HEPA-filtered powered-exhaust laminar flow hood, wear appropriate respiratory protection. The appropriate respirator should be selected based on professional consultation.
  5. Use fume exhaust hoods to expel fumes from tube furnaces or chemical reaction vessels.
  6. Dispose of and transport waste nanoparticles according to hazardous chemical waste guidelines.
  7. Test vacuum cleaners used to clean up nanoparticles, HEPA-filtered units.
  8. Evaluate equipment previously used to manufacture or handle nanoparticles for contamination prior to disposal or reuse.
  9. Lab equipment and exhaust systems should also be evaluated prior to removal, remodeling, or repair.
  10. Given the differing synthetic methods and experimental goals, no blanket recommendation can be made regarding aerosol emissions controls. This should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
  11. Consideration should be given to the high reactivity of some nanopowders materials with regard to potential fire and explosion hazards.

References

Essential reference:

Additional references: