Workers within nanotechnology-related industries have the potential to be exposed to uniquely engineered materials with novel sizes, shapes, and physical and chemical properties. Occupational health risks associated with manufacturing and using nanomaterials are not yet clearly understood and minimal information is currently available on dominant exposure routes, potential exposure levels, and material toxicity of nano-materials.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have launched a five-year programme to investigate the impact of nano-particles on human health and the US EPA has allocated significant funds for developing regulations to control the release and presence of nano-particles in the air.
All heavy industries involving processes emitting fumes have potential problems with the emission of nano-particles. This includes industries such as smelting, firing, glass manufacture, welding, soldering, nuclear power generation and incineration. There is also concern amongst consumer companies that enzymes in washing powders, powder coatings and fibres used in disposable nappies and other products could cause problems.
To date, emissions have been recognised as a potential problem but there has been no effective way of studying the problem in-situ and linking exposures to health effects. A recent review of available instrumentation by the Institute on Occupational Medicine in the UK concluded that there was a lack of robust portable instruments capable of size resolving and counting nano-particulates in the air. This gap is addressed by Ancon instruments, with both the investigative devices currently available.
Relevant Products for Occupational Health Applications:
The Aero Select is a wide-range sampler and is unique in that it spans the entire aerosol range from 2nm up to 20μm. Particles are collected simultaneously using both inertial deposition and diffusion, and separated into 12 size channels.
A companion product for the Aero Select, the MR250 is used to determine mass-size distributions quickly, eliminating the need for laboratory gravimetrical analysis. The mass reader uses the light scattering characteristics of aerosol particles to quantify the masses of samples taken with the Aero Select in the size range of 250 to 35000nm.
The Aero PS300 is a reduced flow rate version of the Aero Select that can be worn by individuals requiring a portable aerosol sampler in order to risk assess exposure. It comprises a Nano collector and a Cyclone where larger particles are removed, and contains a battery powered personal pump.