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WHO Publishes Safety Guidelines to Protect Workers from Exposure to Manufactured Nanomaterials

The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds industry and workers of the need to address occupational exposure to nanomaterials.

Lansing, MI – WEBWIRE

The new WHO guidelines are a positive step for protecting workers from occupational exposures that could occur through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.

This past December, the World Health Organization (WHO) published Guidelines on Protecting Workers from Potential Risks of Manufactured Nanomaterials. The agency used a precautionary approach as a guiding principle to offer best practices and safety recommendations for addressing occupational exposure to manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs).
According to the document, “The toxicity of MNMs may largely depend on numerous physicochemical properties including size, shape (i.e. size in a particular dimension), composition, surface characteristics, charge, and rate of dissolution. There is currently a paucity of precise information about human exposure pathways for MNMs, their fate in the human body and their ability to induce unwanted biological effects such as generation of oxidative stress. Data from in vitro, animal, and human MNM inhalation studies are available for only a few MNMs. So far, no long-term adverse health effects in humans have been observed. This could be due to the recent introduction of MNMs, the precautionary approach to avoid exposure and ethical concerns about conducting studies on humans. This means that, except for a few materials where human studies are available, health recommendations must be based on extrapolation of the evidence from in vitro, animal, or other studies from fields that involve exposure to nanoscale particles, such as air pollution, to the possible effects in humans.”
“In recent years, there has been rapid advancements in the use and production of MNMs for both industrial applications and consumer goods,” said Jeffrey Miller, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®.  “This means workers in countries across the globe are increasingly likely to come in contact with these materials. The new WHO guidelines are a positive step for protecting workers from occupational exposures that could occur through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.”
Helping companies and institutions protect workers and communities from exposure risks to nanomaterials and other potential hazards are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). These uniquely qualified professionals are trained and experienced in air sampling, engineering controls/ventilation, work environments, personal protective equipment (PPE), industrial processes, health risk analysis, and hazard communications.  These and other core competencies of the CIH® program can be instrumental for minimizing exposure to nanomaterials and other potential risks.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, the Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential, or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit, email , or call (517) 321-2638. 
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance, and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6900 people in 32 countries are certified to use the CIH® credential. ABIH® also administers the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP®) credential for established environmental practitioners and the Environmental Professional In-Training (EPI) designation for early-career practitioners.

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