Working Safely with Nanomaterials in Research & Development

Publication Date : 2012
Code : 85
1,187 Visited Entry Date : 2017/10/02


Volume 44
Document type Guide & Procedure
Subject Occupational Safety

This guidance provides help to research establishments and academia on how to comply with their occupational health and safety legal obligations; it also provides additional information to help make improvements to health and safety systems when working with nanomaterials.

This Guidance Note draws attention to the possible health hazards which could result from exposure to particulate nanomaterials. It gives advice on the precautions that may be needed to prevent or adequately control exposure as required by the "Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002" (as amended).

The aim of this document is to give guidance on factors relating to establishing a safe workplace and good safety practice when working with particulate nanomaterials. The document is applicable to a wide range of nanomaterials, including particles, fibres, powders, tubes and wires as well as aggregates and agglomerates.

This guidance is aimed at employers, managers, health and safety advisors, and users of particulate nanomaterials in research and development. It should be read in conjunction with the Approved Code of Practice on COSHH, together with the other literature referred to below and in the Appendices.

The document has been produced taking account of the safety information currently available and is presented in the format of guidance and recommendations to support implementation of suitable protocols and control measures by employers and employee by advocating a precautionary strategy to minimise potential exposure. It is intended that the document will be reviewed and updated on a periodic basis to keep abreast of the evolving nature of the content. 

Scope of Guidance


Terms and Definitions




Legal Duty


Exposure Risk and Hazardous Properties of Nanomaterials


Risk Management Principles


Nanomaterials’ Characterisation

   Background and challenges    

   Selection of properties and techniques for characterisation    



   Hazard Information    


Hazard Banding


Exposure Control

   Risk Assessment    

   Prevention and control of exposure    

   Prevention of exposure: Substitution    

   Workplace Exposure Limits    

   Approaches to selecting control measures    

   Control of exposure to particulate nanomaterials    

      Inhalation risk         

      Dermal and ingestion risk         


Engineering Control Measures

   HEPA Filtration Efficiency    

   Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)    

   Ducted Microbiological Safety Cabinets (MSCs)    

   Ductless re-circulating HEPA-filtered containment cabinets and re-circulating MSCs    

   Maintenance, examination and testing of control measures    


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

   Eye protection    

   Respiratory protective equipment    



   Protective clothing    

   Cleaning spillages    


Specific Advice for High Aspect Ratio Nanomaterials (HARNs)


Information, Instruction and Training



   Limitations to monitoring    

   Instruments used    

   Sampling strategy    



Health Surveillance


Disposal of Waste Nanomaterials

   Preparation of nanomaterial waste prior to disposal    

   Disposal by waste contractors    


Labelling and Signs




APPENDIX 1: Comparison of US Microbiological Safety Cabinet characteristics and applicability for nanomaterials


APPENDIX 2: Particulate Nano-Material Control Measures Selection Flowchart


APPENDIX 3: Engineering Controls


APPENDIX 4: Record of Work Activity Form


APPENDIX 5: Sampling Protocol to assess release of particulate nanomaterials to the air

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