What are Engineered Nanomaterials? Uses and Hazards
Engineered nanomaterials are chemical substances or materials that are engineered with particle sizes between 1 to 100 nanometers in at least one dimension. It is well established that engineered nanomaterials derive many functional advantages from their unique physical and chemical properties.
These novel properties have spurred tremendous interest in innovations across many industrial, commercial and medical sectors. However, many of the same properties for which nanomaterials are engineered and exploited – such as particle size, surface area and surface reactivity – also influence their inherent hazard and potentially threaten the health of workers, communities and the environment. In general, engineered nanomaterials should not be considered a safer substitute to toxic chemicals.
TURI’s activities on nanomaterials
TURI's fact sheet on nanomaterials provides introductory information on four categories of nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, nano titanium dioxide, and nanosilver. It includes information on uses, health and environmental effects, and safer alternatives. As summarized in the fact sheet, in addition to eliminating nanomaterials or reducing their toxicity whenever possible, safer workplace practices are essential.
TURI’s research, grants, education and training programs focus on the safe development and use of engineered nanomaterials among Massachusetts industries.
The TURI Library's subject guide to nanotechnology health and safety issues provides resources related to the environmental health and safety issues associated with engineered nanomaterials. It includes links to electronic books, organizational websites, reports and journal articles.
- Nanotechnology at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH is conducting pioneering research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of engineered nanomaterials.
- Nanotechnology and the Environment. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies contains a number of tools and resources on societal, public health and environment issues associated with nanotechnology.
- Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD has several resources on the implications engineered nanomaterials for human health and environment safety, focusing in particular on testing and assessment methods.