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EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)

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Nanomaterials

Exposed Populations

Currently, many engineered nanomaterials and nanomaterial applications are still in the research and development stage. Therefore, workers involved with these fields represent a key population that may be at high risk for exposure.

The use of nanoscale materials in consumer products is increasing rapidly. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) nanomaterials are found in electronics, cosmetics, automotive, and medical products. PEN maintains a searchable inventory of “nano” products that includes manufacturer-identified consumer products currently on the market. While nanomaterials in electronics have limited exposure potential for consumers (as the nanomaterial is usually embedded in the product interior), individuals who work in electronic manufacturing or electronic recycling may be occupationally exposed to nanomaterials. Other nano-enabled products may result in higher exposures to the consumer, such as cosmetics containing nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials are also currently used many biomedical devices, such as imaging technologies or drug treatments. Biomedical engineers and pharmaceutical scientists may experience occupational exposure during the development and manufacturing of these applications, while medical professionals and patients may incur exposure through their use.

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