The unique properties of nanoparticles are seeing increasingly frequent exploitation in technical processes, being used in industrial and consumer products alike. These properties however prompt concerns regarding the substances' possibly harmful impacts upon human beings and the environment. This has led to detailed studies being conducted into the safe handling of nanomaterials, on a scientific, regulatory and industrial level.
Determining exposure to nanoparticles in workplace atmospheres must take account of a range of properties, such as their quantity, surface area, mass, composition, reactivity, geometry and solubility. In particular, virtually no suitable devices exist specifically for measuring nanoparticles in a workplace context.
A family of portable devices was to be developed in the NanoDevice project for directly determining a range of relevant nanoparticle properties at suitable sampling rates.
Besides development of the devices, reference materials were characterized and manufactured for the generation of aerosols, and their biological efficacy was studied. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance was particularly involved in practical trials of the new devices. For this purpose, the devices were exposed in a dust tunnel to a range of nanoaerosols and their measured values compared with those of reference devices. The reference devices include mobility analysers (such as the SMPS), which determine the particle size distribution within the nanometer range, thus enabling the test aerosol to be characterized precisely. The devices were also trialled at workplaces in a further project stage. The purpose of these trials was to evaluate the scope for the instruments' use in practice, and their ease of use. Feedback into development activity was planned. The project was to yield improved methods and devices for determining exposure to nanoparticles, particularly portable devices.
The prototypes (samplers and monitors) developed in the project were employed at workplaces in a pilot study and a main study by IFA, and their use and the results obtained with them evaluated. The services for exposure determination of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions were involved in some cases. The effort required for preparation, performance of measurement and maintenance of the prototypes was determined by IFA with means of a questionnaire for those persons performing the tests and compared to that for familiar devices used as standard. On average, ease of use was found to be good. The scope for use of these devices for the tiered approach for exposure determination of nanoparticles was also determined by IFA. This tiered approach was developed under cooperation of IFA, BG RCI, BAuA, VCI, IUTA and TU Dresden (see further infos). At the state of developments reached at the time of the study, the attainable depth of information was classified as good to satisfactory. Improvements may be anticipated by the time the products are launched on the market. The descriptions of the prototypes of several companies and institutes can be found under www.nano-device.eu. The transfer into commercial instruments is done partly, so that the exposure determination against nanoparticles at workplaces will be improved in future.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
dust, fibers, particles, exposure, working environment (load, hazards, exposure, risks)Description, key words:
nanoparticles, portable measurement devices, development