RJ Lee Group Completes Unbound Nanoparticles Study

"This type of study can help alleviate exposure concerns for both manufacturer and researcher handling unbound nanoparticles and for the environment wherever nanoscale manufacturing or research is performed," said Randy Ogle, former operations and EH&S manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and co-author of the study.

RJ Lee Group Inc., a Monroeville, Pa.-based materials characterization and analytical services laboratory, successfully completed a multiphase study on unbound nanoparticles (UNP). The study, conducted in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), evaluated worker exposure and potential environmental release of UNP.

The LBNL laboratories sought to assess compliance status with Department of Energy (DOE) Notice N456.1, The Safe Handling of Unbound Engineered Nanoparticles, retained RJ Lee Group to develop and carry out the multiphase UNP study. UNP are engineered nanoparticles which can be a potential source of exposure to workers handling them and can also affect the environment. Phases I and II of the study, which began in 2009, involved collecting UNP materials from a sub-set of the LBNL laboratories, analyzing them, developing preliminary control bands to summarize risk levels, and then determining process controls based on those risk levels.

Phase III of the study established results for source, background and personal air samples taken at various points in the handling process. After evaluating all the results, RJ Lee Group determined the controls best suited to the process based on preliminary exposure assessment. Results showed that in all cases, the actual controls being used by LBNL researchers working with UNP met or exceeded the validated control band established. The reports for completed study phases are available at http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/.

Randy Ogle, former operations and EH&S manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and co-author of the LBNL study, said, “Our work with LBNL was the first of its kind involving the government. Given the success of the study, we believe this can serve as a basis for further EH&S studies at numerous government facilities, in industry and in university research settings. This type of study can help alleviate exposure concerns for both manufacturer and researcher handling UNP and for the environment wherever nanoscale manufacturing or research is performed. I could foresee this study being referred to as a standard for those in the nanotechnology industry.”

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