Nanomaterials ES&H

Department of Energy (DOE) Nanoscale Science Research Centers efforts

Health and safety staff associated with the DOE’s five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs) have been meeting to discuss ES&H issues at these facilities since September 2004, when all of these facilities were still under construction. In February 2007, the directors of the NSRCs formally chartered this Environment, Health, and Safety Working Group and tasked it with developing a recommended strategy for establishing an ES&H program for nanotechnology research that protects workers, the environment, and the public. The working group, with input from health and safety experts in the Department, developed such guidance, Approach to Nanomaterial ES&H, for application to all of the Nanoscale Science Research Centers. The document covers Conceptual Foundations, Controls for R&D Laboratory Operations, Verifying Program Effectiveness, Transportation of Nanomaterials, Management of Nanomaterial-Bearing Waste Streams, Management of Nanomaterial Spills, and an Example Industrial Hygiene Sampling Protocol.

The approach embodies Integrated Safety Management, reinforces compliance with DOE Policy 456.1 issued in September 2005, “Secretarial Policy Statement on Nanoscale Safety," expects adherence to site-specific implementation plans for P 456.1, and conforms with the general principles in the National Research Council’s Prudent Practices for Handling Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories. This approach is a living document, periodically updated by the Working Group, and has informed development of DOE Notice 456.1 issued in January 2009, "The Safe Handling of Unbound Engineered Nanoparticles," which establishes requirements and assigns responsibilities to ensure that work with such materials is carried out safely.

Additional information is available on the Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Safety Special Interest Group (IH/OS) Special Interest Group (SIG) nanotechnology web pages.