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Kristen Kulinowski, a Faculty Fellow in Chemistry at Rice University and director of the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), is available to discuss a new paper that purports to show nanoparticles played a role in the deaths of two workers in China.
The paper to be published by the European Respiratory Journal this week examines the case of seven female workers, ages 18-47, who were exposed for up to 13 months to nanoparticles in a polyacrylate material air-sprayed onto polystyrene. All suffered shortness of breath and pleural effusions, an excess of fluid in the pleural cavity that surrounds the lungs, and were admitted to hospitals where examinations revealed nanoparticles in chest fluid and lodged in cells. The women who died were 19 and 29.
"The real tragedy is that these workers could have been protected if a conventional chemical hygiene plan that included a working ventilation system and personal protective equipment had been available," said Kulinowski. "Preventing inhalation of 30-nm nanoparticles can be as simple as the proper use of an inexpensive mask sold by your neighborhood home-improvement store. But even this basic protective measure was not employed in this workplace."
As director of the Rice-based ICON, Kulinowski spearheaded the GoodNanoGuide, an open-source wiki on the safe handling of nanomaterials introduced earlier this year. It can be found at www.GoodNanoGuide.org.
Kulinowski may be reached at or 713-348-8211.
The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) is an international, multi-stakeholder organization based at Rice University. Our mission is to develop and communicate information regarding potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnology thereby fostering risk reduction while maximizing societal benefit. The council has evolved into a network of scholars, industrialists, government officials and public interest advocates who share information and perspectives on a broad range of issues at the intersection of nanotechnology and environment, health and safety. We maintain a public portal for information on nanomaterial environment, health and safety (EHS) at icon.rice.edu.
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