How can you produce safe nano-textiles?
The Swiss project NanoSafe Textiles has carefully assessed current and future applications of synthetic nanoparticles in textiles and evaluated their potential risks for the environment and humans throughout the complete lifecycle. Based on these results the project team compiled a guideline for the textile industry on how to produce safe, sustainable and economically attractive nano-enhanced textiles.
- The guideline together with further information on this topic “nano in textiles” can be found in our cross-cutting section!!!
Which mask should I buy if I want to protect myself against Nano dust?
If protective technical measures against unintentional release of nanomaterials at the workplace are NOT sufficient, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) recommends the use of personal respiratory protection (filter class P3 or P2). When selecting the personal respiratory protection device, the previous risk assessment for the work place has to play a major role. If the wearing of a breathing mask is required, it has to be fitted tightly to the face or head. Likewise, current time limits and regulations for the wearing of breathing masks have to be respected. Besides personal protection, teaching and training of employees on the correct use is important too.
- Further information on this topics are provided on the DGUV website or in our FAQ on “Who is responsible for occupational safety in the handling of nanomaterials, and where can I find relevant information?”
Who is responsible for occupational safety in the handling of nanomaterials, and where can I find relevant information?
Safety at the workplace is the responsibility of the employer. He is responsible for all basic trainings, assessment & management of risks and potential hazards at the workplace as well as the implementation of the associated protective safety measures. The employee has to act safely in accordance with the training and has to inform the employer about any possible further risks. The European legislation on worker protection also applies to nanomaterials. Similarly to the handling of other hazardous substances, the same prevention measures (“STOP”) following the hierarchy of control are relevant:
- Technical control measures at the source
- Organisational measures
- Personal protection equipment
Further information on this topic of nanomaterials and occupational health & safety can be found on the websites of the appropriate authorities, insurers or the European Agency for safety and health at work (EU-OSHA).
- Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) – Nanotechnology
- Nanoportal of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) (in GERMAN)
- German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) – Ultrafine aerosols and nanoparticles at the workplace
- Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) – Occupational health protection
- Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety (FCOS)
- Swiss Social Accident insurance (SUVA) (in GERMAN) – Nanopartikel an Arbeitsplätzen
- Arbeitsinspektion (Bundesministeriums für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz) – Nanomaterialien (in GERMAN)
- Nanoinformation-Portal (in GERMAN)
- European Agency for safety and health at work (EU-OSHA) – Managing nanomaterials in the workplace
Occupational exposure limits & protective measures for nanomaterials: national and european regulations
Up-to-now, there are no European occupational exposure limits in place. However, the establishment of such values is an ongoing process. So far, health and safety measures for the handling of nanomaterials are based on the precautionary principle of existing knowledge derived from safety measures for handling chemicals. This includes in particular the avoidance of contact with the particles (exposure) and the use of personal protective equipment (for example, respiratory protection, protective gloves).
In Germany, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) is dealing with the topic of nanosafety at the workplace; in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has created a precautionary matrix for synthetic nanomaterials.
- German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) – Nanotechnology
- Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) – Precautionary Matrix for Synthetic Nanomaterials
- Brochure “Nano-To-Go: Safe handling of nano materials and other advanced materials at workplaces” (2015)
- European Precautionary Principle (last update 21.09.2015)