Risk management in detail
Specific risk advice for nanotechnology
Where nanomaterials have an uncertain or not clearly defined toxicology and unless, or until, sound evidence is available on the hazards from inhalation, ingestion, or absorption a precautionary approach should be taken to the risk management.
If the use of nanomaterials cannot be avoided then the implementation of a risk management program in workplaces where exposure to nanomaterials exists, can help to minimise the potential for exposure to nanomaterials.
Elements of such a program should include the following (more information can be found at Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) or Risk management:
- Carry out a risk/COSHH assessment on the nanomaterials being used using COSHH and Risk Assessment.
- For most particulate nanomaterials that can become airborne and be breathed in, particularly those that are poorly soluble, the primary health concern is for effects on the lung. This should be the first consideration for any nanomaterial being using, where there is any potential for inhalation exposure. However, other means of exposure, such as skin contact or ingestion should also be considered.
- If the nanomaterials are combustible ,consider whether the handling processes can generate a risk from fires and explosions and apply appropriate control and mitigation measures according to the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).
See HSE's guidance HSG272 'Using nanomaterials at work'
The absence of knowledge about the health and safety hazards of new nanomaterials introduces significant uncertainty into any risk assessment. You should therefore implement precautionary controls on exposure when working with them.
Further information on hazard (and exposure) assessment for nanomaterials can be obtained from the reports from the REACH Implementation Projects on Nanomaterials (RIPoNs) 2 and 3