Assessment of nanomaterial-related risks

Often there is no legal void in national regulations, and nanomaterials are just another chemical agent. As their potential danger is recognized, higher-level preventive measures are imposed and require exposure monitoring

The new chemical properties available through nanotechnology open the door to a wide range of innovations, but at the same time generate many uncertainties as to their potential toxicity. It is indeed not possible to extrapolate the known effects on human health of certain substances to their nanostructured forms. It is even likely that the high reactivity generated by the higher exchange surface area of nanoparticles for the same quantity of material will increase their toxicity.

As the possibility of deep penetration of nanoparticles, their aggregates and agglomerates into the respiratory tract is high, toxicity through inhalation is a major concern. It should be noted that this method of propagation is difficult to assess and control, because nanoparticles are invisible.

The hazard level for nanomaterials is unknown.

Companies are liable for the consequences of the substances they produce or use (nanomaterials or otherwise) on human health and the environment. In most countries, the employer especially has a duty to achieve results when employee health protection is involved.
This means that nanomaterial-related risks cannot be ignored and must be included in employer’s mandatory risk assessments (Article L4121-3 of the French Labor Code) depending on the situation.

If nanomaterials are deliberately used in the production cycle, considering the very high number of warnings that have been issued on the potential hazards of nanomaterials, the employer’s only choice is to apply the highest level prevention and safety rules. These prevention rules imply a legal duty to measure and monitor exposure to chemical risks using metrology measurements suitable for nanoparticles such as PARTICLEVER.

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