Due to their unique properties, engineered nanoparticles (ENP) are now used for a myriad of novel applications with great economic and technological importance. However, some of these properties, especially their surface reactivity, have raised health concerns, which have prompted scientists, regulators, and industry to seek consensus protocols for the safe production and use of the different forms of ENP
There is currently a shortage of field-worthy, cost-effective ways - especially in real time - for reliable assessment of exposure levels to ENP in workplace air. In addition to the problems with the size distribution, a major uncertainty in the safety assessment of airborne ENP arises from the lack of knowledge of their physical and chemical properties, and the levels of exposure. A special challenge of ENP monitoring is to separate ubiquitous background nanoparticles from different sources from the ENP. Here the main project goal is to develop innovative concepts and reliable methods for characterizing ENP in workplace air with novel, portable and easy-to-use devices suitable for workplaces.
Additional research objectives are
- identification of relevant physico-chemical properties and metrics of airborne ENP; establishment of reference materials;
- exploring the association between physico-chemical and toxicological properties of ENP;
- analyzing industrial processes as a source of ENP in workplace air;
- developing methods for calibration and testing of the novel devices in real and simulated exposure situations; and
- dissemination of the research results to promote the safe use of ENP through guidance, standards and education, implementing of safety objectives in ENP production and handling, and promotion of safety related collaborations through an international nanosafety platform.