Authors: Gulumian M, Andraos C, Boodhia K, Sanabria N, Utembe W, Vetten M

Source: Occupational Health Southern Africa 22(4): 15-19

Nanotechnology offers a wide array of potential applications in the biomedical, industrial and environmental sectors. However, as this technology progresses and engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are used commercially, it has become critically important to protect the worker during the development, synthesis and production of these ENMs. Recently, nanotoxicology and the risk assessment of ENMs have become a strategic thrust for the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH). In addition, the Toxicology Department at the NIOH has participated in the health risk assessment of particles and fibres in the workplace. In this paper, a brief introduction of ENMs and nanotoxicology is presented, along with its importance in occupational health. Some of the challenges faced during the health risk assessment of ENMs are presented and the role of the NIOH in this field in South Africa is discussed.