Requirements for working safely with Nanomaterials at JSNN Research Labs

 I. Scope and applicability

There is currently limited scientific information available . The use of local exhaust ventilation and proper PPE is  in controlling exposure to nanomaterials. This document is a proactive approach to address the emerging safety and health concerns regarding the use of nanomaterials in research laboratories, associated risks and hazards, and available protective measures. The requirements outlined in this document apply to the procurement, generation, use, shipping, and disposal of nanomaterials at JSNN. Nanomaterials include any material which has structured components with at least one dimension less than 100 nanometers (0.1 micrometer). This includes materials that are part of a liquid suspension, a solid particulate, or fibrous matter. 

 II. Nanomaterial health and safety hazards

Because of their small size/dimension, nano-scale materials may exhibit properties that substantially differ from those of the parent materias.. These include:

A.  Physical properties/hazards

  1. Smaller particles have a larger surface to volume/mass ratio resulting in
  • Higher chemical reactivity
  • Rapid dispersion and distribution in air and water
  • Increased tendency to oxidation and exothermic reactions
  • Increased risk of fire and explosion

B.  Health hazards

  1. Nanomaterials may readily penetrate intact skin
  2. May diffuse through the lungs, reaching the target cells and organs through the bloodstream
  3. May pose health hazards due to both toxicity of the parent material as well as the small particle/fiber size

III. Roles and responsibilities

A.  Principal Investigators

  • Develop and document processes under their Safety Plan (Chemical Hygiene plan)
  • Conduct hazard review and develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safe handling of materials, using ROEHS guidelines and templates
  • Develop and provide experiment-specific training for researchers working in their laboratories or projects
  • Ensure that all researchers review the JSNN Nanomaterials Health and Safety Program and complete the “nanomaterial safety training” module
  • Make sure that all researchers follow the practices and apply protective methods required for safe handling of nanomaterials
  • Limit the purchasing quantities and make sure that materials are properly labeled, stored, used, and discarded
  • Consider purchasing material with lower risk and applying safer procedures

B. Researchers

  • Review the JSNN Nanomaterials Health and Safety Program and complete the “nanomaterial safety training” module
  • Apply safe practices, control measures, and proper PPE for exposure prevention and minimization
  • Participate in hazard reviews and review and follow the written SOPs
  • Inform their PIs of any concern regarding potential exposure or unsafe working conditions
  • Reviews Safety Data Sheets and other safety resources for hazard identification and risk evaluation before using the material


  • Develops, present, and document annual nanomaterial safety training
  • Assists researchers in performing hazard review and developing SOPs
  • Responds to researcher’s concerns and provide assistance as needed
  • Responds to emergencies and spills
  • Maintains and updates JSNN Nanomaterial Health and Safety Program

IV. Health and Safety Requirements

A. Establishing a new research

Any new research involving nanomaterials must be reviewed and approved by JSNN- ROEHS in advance. Approval procedure includes establishing and reviewing a written process description, performing a hazard review, reviewing the SOP, and evaluating required exposure control methods, including local exhaust ventilation.

  1. PIs present their written research proposal, describing type, volume, concentration, frequency, and conditions under which nanomaterial will be used.
  2. ROEHS reviews the document and ensures that the research lab has in place the space, equipment, and control mechanisms necessary for safe handling of the nanomaterial.
  3. Upon approval (after required adjustments), PIs, in conjunction with the ROEHS will perform a hazard review, develop an SOP, and document the processes under their laboratory Chemical Hygiene Plan (Safety Plan). Nanomaterials must also be listed on the lab chemical inventory.
  4. All users must complete the nanomaterial safety training requirements and follow the procedures and exposure prevention requirements outlined within their SOPs and Safety Plan processes.
  5. PIs must inform the ROEHS of any major process or material modifications (management of change).
  6. PIs review and update the program elements, safety training, and safety procedures least annually and upon any major modifications.

B. Training requirements

Prior to using nanomaterials, all researchers are required to:

  1. Complete the JSNN Nanomaterial Safety Training, including a required annual refresher..
  2. Review written SOPs.
  3. Review written processes under lab safety plan.
  4. Review the SDS before using material. It must be noticed that SDS documents may only address the hazard/toxicity of the parent material. Additional safety evaluations are required for understanding the chemical and physical properties of nano-scale material and their health and safety implications.
  5. Fulfill any lab-specific training requirements that PIs may provide.

C. Exposure prevention

1. Engineering control
  • Dry nanomaterials must only be used inside a fume hood or other ROHS-approved exhaust enclosures
  • Balances for weighing nanomaterial must be placed ironside a fume hood or and exhausted/filtered balance enclosure approved by ROEHS
  • All furnaces and other devices that may release nanomaterials into the air must be connected to the lab exhaust system. Filtration before exhaust may be necessary (reviewed by ROEHS)
  • ROEHS may conduct air sampling when there is a potential for exposure to airborne nanomaterials or to verify the efficiency of the engineering controls.
2.  Administrative control/work practices
  • Use transfer techniques that minimizes/does not allow particles to become airborne
  • Use wet wipes for surface clean up at the end of process/end of each day
  • Wash hands with copious amount of water and soap before leaving the lab
  • Label all containers with chemical name and nanomaterial warning
3. Store materials based on their compatibility Personal Protective Equipment
  • As part of the safety plan, a documented PPE assessment is required for each process, including the use of nanomaterials
  • Use disposable nitrile gloves for handling dry materials. Double gloves should be required for highly toxic materials
  • For the nanomaterials dissolved or suspended in a solvent, glove selection should be based on the compatibility of the gloves for protection against the particular solvent. Use the manufacturer glove selection chart for proper glove identification
  • Where appropriate protective gloves for the carrier solvent is not available, a combination of high dexterity outer glove (e.g., 4-mil nitrile) combined with a laminated inner glove (e.g. Silver Shield) is recommended
  • Any use of respirators for exposure prevention, including disposable N95, will require ROEHS review and pre-approval

D. Emergencies

1. Exposure
  • Inhalation of particles/fibers
  • Contact JSNN-ROEHS with concerns regarding inhalation exposure. All solid nanomaterial must be used inside a fume hood/exhausted enclosure to prevent any inhalation hazard. In emergency cases, call 911
  • Skin contact
  • Wash contaminated hands with soap and water. For solutions injurious to skin or eyes, or known to be absorbed through mucous membranes, use emergency eyewash/safety shower for spills into the eyes/over the body. Seek medical attention afterward. In emergency cases, call 911
  • Ingestion
  • Contact JSNN-ROEHS for consulting. In emergency/acute exposure, call 911.
2. Spill

a.      Attempt spill clean up only if:

  • The nature of the material and associated risks/hazards is well known to you

  • Spill quantity is rather small and manageable

  • Proper PPE and spill clean up materials are available

  • You are trained, authorized, and confident for spill clean up procedures

  • Spilled material are controlled and contained

  • Clean up does not pose any inhalation or skin absorption hazard to the individual cleaning up the spill or other individuals in the room/area

b.     Absorb liquid suspensions with absorbent pads. Follow with a wet wipe using an absorbent towelette

c.     For spilled dry material, not dry sweep. Wet-wipe dry materials with an absorbent towelette. Wipe with multiple passes to collect materials. Label and dispose of all collected materials and wipes as noted in section E, “waste disposal” section

d.     Notify ROEHS when help is needed for spill clean up

e.     Secure and post contaminated area until cleanup and decontamination process is complete

f.      Report all incidents, spills, and near misses to the ROEHS

E. Waste Disposal

Collect, label, and discard nanomaterial and any materials used for wiping work surfaces or equipment. In addition to the JSNN waste labeling requirements, waste containing nanomaterial must be labeled with name of the material preceded by word “nanosize” or “nanomaterial