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Quick Guide: Exposure Risks and Control Measures for Common Laboratory Operations Involving Nanomaterials

Activity types, by Risk of Exposure Primary Control Measures
Low Probability:
  • Non-destructive handling of solid nanoparticle composites or nanoparticles permanently bonded to a substrate
  • Disposable nitrile or PVC gloves. Do not reuse gloves.
  • Wet cleaning procedures and/or HEPA vacuum for surfaces/equipment.
Medium / High Probability:
  • Working w/ nanomaterials in liquid media during pouring or mixing, or where a high degree of agitation is involved (e.g., sonication)
  • Handling nanostructured powders*
  • High speed abrading/grinding nano-composite materials
  • Maintenance on equipment used to produce nanomaterials
  • Cleaning of dust collection systems used to capture nanoparticles
  • Conduct task within a fully enclosed system (e.g., glovebox), or fume hood
  • Disposable gloves appropriate for the solvent in which the particles are suspended. Do not reuse gloves.
  • Safety eyewear (+ face shield if splash potential exists)
  • Wet cleaning procedures for surfaces/equipment
High Probability:
  • Generating nanoparticles in the gas phase or in aerosol (spill or liquid)
  • Manipulation of nanoparticles in gas stream
  • Work in enclosed systems only (e.g., glovebox, glovebag, or sealed chamber).

* EH&S recognizes that low-density nanomaterials (e.g., carbon-based) become aerosolized by even the slightest air movement and may not be practical when weighed or handled in laboratory fume hoods. Consult with EH&S on alternative sets of controls.


Back to General Principles and Practices for Working Safely with Engineered Nanomaterials