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Canada adopts international standard on controlling nanotechnology exposure

By COS staff

CSA Group has announced Canada's first adopted International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard on nanotechnologies. CSA Z12885, Nanotechnologies — Exposure control program for engineered nanomaterials in occupational settings provides guidance for the safe use of nanomaterials in the workplace.

"The development of standards is crucial for effective and responsible commercialization of nanotechnologies," said Brian Haydon, senior project manager, standards, CSA Group. "CSA Z12885 is the first in a series of standards on nanotechnologies being adopted in Canada, resulting from international and Canadian contributions to the continued activity of ISO/TC 229, the ISO technical committee on nanotechnologies."

CSA Z12885, Nanotechnologies - Exposure control program for engineered nanomaterials in occupational settings provides guidance to establish and implement a comprehensive managed program to control exposure to nanomaterials in the workplace. This follows recognized approaches to risk management with a focus on information and issues specific to nanotechnologies including hazard identification, risk assessment procedures, training requirements and worker engagement. CSA Z12885 contains revisions to ISO/TR 12885 and additional guidance to reflect Canadian practices and safety considerations.

Nanotechnology involves materials at the nanoscale. The term "nanoscale" means the size range from approximately one nanometre (nm) to 100 nm. A nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre. To give a sense of this scale, a human hair is about 75,000 nm wide.

The term "nanotechnology" is a multidisciplinary grouping of physical, chemical, biological, engineering, electronic processes, materials, applications and concepts in which a defining characteristic is size. Unique properties exhibited at the nanoscale, such as extra strength, chemical reactivity, and electrical conductivity are being applied in a range of product areas that includes computers, health care, packaging, textiles and energy.

Like chemicals, nanomaterials represent a wide range of materials with different shapes and sizes, as well as different chemical and physical behaviours. Research on the movement, persistence and toxicity of nanomaterials both in humans and the environment is currently underway to ensure responsible and safe use of the technology.

This standard was announced to industry and research stakeholders at the recent Nano Ontario 2012 Conference in Waterloo, Ont. The development of this standard was made possible, in part, by the financial support of Alberta Innovates Technology Futures — nanoAlberta, Health Canada, MDEIE (Developpement economique, Innovation et Exportation — Gouvernement du Quebec) and the National Research Council Canada — Industrial Research Assistance Program.

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