By Dan Boschee
When I attended the recent National Safety Council Labor Division in San Diego, there was a topic that I think our members will hear more about in the future. That topic was “Nanotechnology in the Workplace, ” and it has the potential to affect almost every aspect of the work and private world.
By using nanotechnology, scientists and researchers have found ways to develop and improve products and materials on the nano scale. As an example, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. These minute nano-particles can be fashioned to revolutionize many existing industries.
The items that can be enhanced with nanotechnology are far ranging. In construction, scientists have found a way for concrete to harden in cold conditions faster, resist heat as a super insulator and make products stronger and more shock-resistant. Another example is in the medical field, where it is being used in making burn dressings more effective.
But this new technology has raised some potential heath hazards as well. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a concern that airborne nanoparticles can be deposited in the respiratory tract, causing lung tumors. Through contact on the skin, nanoparticles could enter the blood system and be absorbed into various organs in the body. More research is needed before the true health effects are known.
This technology will potentially improve our lives, but we must learn of the dangers and the health risks as we start using nano products.
Dan Boschee is the Recorder for the IBEW 1245 Health and Safety committee and a communications technician for Frontier Communications in Elk Grove.