Nanotechnology involves the creation and/or manipulation of materials at the nanometre (nm) scale. One nanometre is 10-9 m or one millionth of a millimetre. By comparison, a human hair is approximately 70,000 nm in diameter, a red blood cell is approximately 5,000 nm wide and simple organic molecules have sizes ranging from 0.5 to 5 nm.
Nanoparticles exist in nature, for example, milk contains nanoscale droplets of fat and every cell in your body relies on nanosized protein complexes to function.
Nanoparticles are also manufactured or produced as a by-product of many long standing processes, such as fires, diesel engines and high energy manufacturing processing such as welding or grinding.
The production / manufacture of engineered nanomaterials is a rapidly developing area, with a wide range of applications in many different industries. For example, a biologist may use a nanomaterial in their work producing life-changing medicines, a builder may incorporate a self cleaning window coated with a nanomaterial into a new house, or members of the public may use cosmetic products which incorporate nanomaterials.
University guidance is intended to assist Principle Investigators involved in the creation or manipulation of nanomaterials in undertaking risk assessments and developing control strategies that will ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that staff and students are not exposed to any unnecessary risks in relation to the use of nanomaterials.
Nanoparticles are usually defined as having one or more external dimensions in the order of 100 nm or less i.e.: < 0.1 micrometre/micron. This guidance generally relates to controlling exposure at work to any potentially hazardous engineered particles in the nano- or sub micron range.
Guidance and Safety Requirements for the Creation and Manipulation of Engineered Nano Materials
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