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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 349; doi:10.3390/ijms19020349

Workers’ Exposure to Nano-Objects with Different Dimensionalities in R&D Laboratories: Measurement Strategy and Field Studies

1
Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority—Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Via Fontana Candida 1, I-00078 Rome, Italy
2
Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority—Department of Technologies, via del Torraccio di Torrenova 7, I-00133 Rome, Italy
3
Laboratorio NEST—Scuola Normale Superiore and Istituto Nanoscienze—CNR, Piazza San Silvestro 12, I-56127 Pisa, Italy
4
Laboratorio NEST—Scuola Normale Superiore and Italian Institute of Technology (IIT)—Center for Nanotechnology Innovation, Piazza San Silvestro 12, I-56127 Pisa, Italy
5
Italian Association for Industrial Research (AIRI), Viale Gorizia 25/c, I-00198 Rome, Italy
Current address: Sentec Ltd., 5 The Westbrook Centre, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 1YG, UK.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotoxicology and Nanosafety)
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Abstract

With the increasing interest in the potential benefits of nanotechnologies, concern is still growing that they may present emerging risks for workers. Various strategies have been developed to assess the exposure to nano-objects and their agglomerates and aggregates (NOAA) in the workplace, integrating different aerosol measurement instruments and taking into account multiple parameters that may influence NOAA toxicity. The present study proposes a multi-metric approach for measuring and sampling NOAA in the workplace, applied to three case studies in laboratories each dedicated to materials with different shapes and dimensionalities: graphene, nanowires, and nanoparticles. The study is part of a larger project with the aim of improving risk management tools in nanomaterials research laboratories. The harmonized methodology proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been applied, including information gathering about materials and processes, measurements with easy-to-use and hand-held real-time devices, air sampling with personal samplers, and off-line analysis using scanning electron microscopy. Significant values beyond which an emission can be attributed to the NOAA production process were identified by comparison of the particle number concentration (PNC) time series and the corresponding background levels in the three laboratories. We explored the relations between background PNC and microclimatic parameters. Morphological and elemental analysis of sampled filters was done to identify possible emission sources of NOAA during the production processes: rare particles, spherical, with average diameter similar to the produced NOAA were identified in the nanoparticles laboratory, so further investigation is recommended to confirm the potential for worker exposure. In conclusion, the information obtained should provide a valuable basis for improving risk management strategies in the laboratory at work. View Full-Text
Keywords: nanotechnologies; occupational safety and health; industrial hygiene; risk analysis; exposure measurement; harmonized tiered approach nanotechnologies; occupational safety and health; industrial hygiene; risk analysis; exposure measurement; harmonized tiered approach
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Boccuni, F.; Ferrante, R.; Tombolini, F.; Lega, D.; Antonini, A.; Alvino, A.; Pingue, P.; Beltram, F.; Sorba, L.; Piazza, V.; Gemmi, M.; Porcari, A.; Iavicoli, S. Workers’ Exposure to Nano-Objects with Different Dimensionalities in R&D Laboratories: Measurement Strategy and Field Studies. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 349.

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