The Occupational Safety & Health Reporter™ provides complete news coverage and documentation of federal and state occupational safety and health programs, standards, legislation, regulations, enforcement, and Review Commission decisions.
Sept. 10 --Due in part to “woefully incomplete” safety data sheets, workers often do not have sufficient information about potential exposure to substances containing nanomaterials, a union official said at a government-sponsored nanotechnology conference Sept. 10.
Some companies do not list nanomaterials, fail to provide all cautionary information or only include occupational exposure limits for a substance in its standard--rather than nano-sized--form, said Darius Sivin, a health and safety specialist at the United Automobile Workers.
Sivin cited an analysis conducted by safety consultants at the Lippy Group LLP of 49 safety data sheets for nanomaterial-containing products. One-third did not list the nanomaterials, 52 percent did not have cautionary language and 62 percent used exposure limits for the substance in its standard size, Sivin said.
“Even where we theoretically have the right to know, we don't necessarily have the right information,” Sivin said.
Sivin spoke at a conference organized by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a program that organizes the federal government's research and development of nanotechnology. Stakeholders from industry, labor, academia, government and non-governmental organizations gathered to discuss the assessment, management and communication of potential risks associated with use of nanomaterials.
Industry often fails to supply sufficient information about nanotechnology in consumer products, Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen said at the conference. For example, he pointed to a 2009 report showing that approximately 90 percent of the different nanoscale materials that are likely to be commercially available were not reported under a self-reporting program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Voluntary reporting doesn't work,” Hansen said. “Mandatory approaches are needed.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's hazard communication standard requires that companies or importers provide available information on hazardous chemicals that workers might handle. But Sivin said the new hazard communication rule, which was revised in 2012 to align with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, does not make it clear whether companies must indicate the presence of nanomaterials.
The standard does not treat nanomaterials as a distinct category of chemical. But it covers nanomaterial if it presents a hazard, as determined by the weight of available evidence.
Moreover, Sivin said the revised rule has an exemption for manufactured items that contain nanomaterials, even though there may be a risk of exposure if one of those items is subsequently modified. For example, a dashboard coated in nanoparticles may need to be ground or buffed before it fits into a fully assembled automobile, exposing workers to airborne nanomaterials, Sivin said.
Although the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has established that carbon nanotubes and nanofibers are a respiratory hazard, there is an “extreme lack of data” about the potential hazards of other nanomaterials, Sivin said.
“Hopefully we'll have much more willingness to act on partial and incomplete knowledge,” he said. “In the absence of knowledge, we should protect people.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Stimson firstname.lastname@example.org
The EPA's 2009 report, “Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program,” is available at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/nano/nmsp-interim-report-final.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)