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Home > Press > Nanomaterial safety a priority - OSHA bolsters Rice University-based safety program on eve of Buckyball Discovery Conference

Abstract:
Rice University researchers received a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop training materials to help safety officers at small chemical companies that work with nanomaterials.

Nanomaterial safety a priority - OSHA bolsters Rice University-based safety program on eve of Buckyball Discovery Conference

Houston, TX | Posted on September 29th, 2010

Training materials developed through the federally funded program will target workers whose primary responsibility is safety within small-to-medium chemical companies that manufacture or process nanomaterials.

OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grants program awarded Rice the largest of 16 new competitive grants to "develop and implement a variety of materials and training modules on the safe handling of nanomaterials."

"Many small companies have no dedicated occupational health professional on staff, relying instead on external consultants or a staff engineer or scientist for workplace safety training," said Kristen Kulinowski, a senior faculty fellow in chemistry at Rice and director of the Rice-based International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON). "Our materials will equip the designated 'safety person' with the information and resources needed to promote safe handling of nanomaterials throughout the workplace."

ICON administers a Virtual Journal of Nanotechnology Environment, Health and Safety Papers, and also maintains the GoodNanoGuide, a collaborative forum to encourage best practices and keep professionals up-to-date on how to handle nanomaterials in an occupational setting.

"The materials we develop with this new grant will be an extension of our work on developing and communicating information about potential nanomaterial health and safety impacts," Kulinowski said. "We'll incorporate the latest governmental guidance, toxicology and exposure-assessment research and collective wisdom of the broad international occupational health community into a set of free materials that can serve as the basis for a comprehensive workplace training program."

The grant was awarded on the eve of Rice's Buckyball Discovery Conference, which begins Oct. 11. Kulinowski is organizing the nanomaterial safety component of the conference. Experts in the proper handling of nanomaterials will lead a session on the second day of the three-day conference, which is part of Rice's Year of Nano, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the carbon 60 molecule.

The afternoon session will provide an overview of the nanotechnology landscape from the societal perspective, covering environmental health and safety, policy, regulation and the law.

Participants include:

• Charles Geraci, coordinator of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Nanotechnology Research Center.

• Charles Gause, senior vice president of business development for Luna Innovations, which develops pharmaceuticals based on carbon nanotechnology.

• Larry Gibbs, associate vice provost for environmental health and safety at Stanford University and a fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

• Bruce Lippy, founder of The Lippy Group and a certified industrial hygienist and certified safety professional. He has recently completed a guidance document for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, co-authored with Kulinowski, on providing health and safety training to workers exposed to nanomaterials.

• Pam Rosett, an industrial toxicologist at Lockheed Martin Aerospace.

• Walt Trybula, director of the Trybula Foundation Inc., program faculty at the Ingram School of Engineering, Texas State University-San Marcos and a technology futurist who evaluates emerging trends and applications in nanotechnology and is currently focusing on nanotechnology safety needs.

Kulinowski noted that Geraci, Lippy and Trybula will contribute to the creation of training materials under the Harwood grant.

The afternoon session is co-organized by Rice's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology.

Registration is open for Year of Nano events. The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, the world's first nanotechnology center when it opened in 1991, will bring top scientists to Rice for the conference, which will take a comprehensive look at the past, present and future of nanotechnology.

The conference will incorporate the annual T.T. Chao Symposium on Innovation, which brings together established and emerging leaders in the technical, entrepreneurial and policy arenas to think about how Houston can address society's needs in the 21st century.

The Buckyball Discovery Conference is free, but participants must register and pay for meals and special events.

The "Week of Nano" will also feature a Bucky "Ball" Celebration at Rice on the evening of Oct. 11. It will include the presentation of the National Historic Chemical Landmark designation, facility tours, nanotechnology demos and memorabilia, as well as food and drinks. On Oct. 10, friends and fans of nano research at Rice will celebrate at the Buckyball Discovery Gala.

Lockheed Martin is the primary sponsor of the Year of Nano events. The company partners with the Smalley Institute in the Lockheed Martin Advanced Nanotechnology Center of Excellence at Rice, aka LANCER, through which researchers in academia tackle the high-tech industry's toughest problems.

For information about the Year of Nano, the conference and associated events, visit buckyball.smalley.rice.edu.

To register, visit buckyball.smalley.rice.edu/registration/.

For information about the Harwood Training Grants, visit www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html

####

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Contacts:
David Ruth 713-348-6327

Mike Williams
713-348-6728

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