Introduction Nano-electronics has a huge potential for society. Some nano-electronics productional processes use nanomaterial in various forms. However, the knowledge about occupational health surveillance for employees working with nanomaterials does not seem to follow the rapid pace of innovation. Therefore, NanoStreeM, a European Consortium, sheds light on medical follow-up in nano-workers with the semiconductor industry as an example.
Methods A survey about the current practices of medical supervision of persons handling nanomaterials has been conducted in 6 international semiconductor industrial companies.
A literature search for existing guidelines, reports and articles about occupational exposure and medical surveillance concerning all sorts of nanomaterials was performed.
Results Survey: Registration of employees working with nanomaterials takes place in only one company. Because of differences in legal requirements per country and the fact that nano-workers are mostly followed for exposure to chemical risks rather than for nano-materials, medical follow-up is not well established. Clinical examination and spirometry, blood analysis and urine biomonitoring, X-ray and ECG are respectively performed in three, two and one company.
Search: 15 guidelines/reports and 18 articles could be retained. All were published between 2008 and 2016. Generally they state that there is insufficient evidence for nanospecific surveillance, however exposure registries and general medical surveillance as early warning system are recommended. Medical screening for now is only recommend for:
Carbon nanotubes and nanofibers by means of spirometry and baseline X–Ray
Nanomaterial composed of a compound that is already subject to medical screening
Discussion General medical surveillance and exposure registries of nano-workers are advised, yet not always performed. Medical screening is necessary for carbon nanotubes and nanofibers or nanomaterial of which working with the bulk material requires screening. Experimental studies are needed to establish suitable biomarkers. Besides epidemiological studies are necessary in order to specify the recommendations for occupational health physicians.
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