Standard released on nanotechnology use in Canada

Standard will help control exposure to nanomaterials in the workplace: CSA

An adopted International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard on nanotechnologies has been developed for Canadian workplaces by CSA Group, a standards development, testing and certification organization.

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 also contains guidance to reflect Canadian practices and safety considerations.

"The development of standards is crucial for effective and responsible commercialization of nanotechnologies," said Brian Haydon, standards project manager, 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."

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology involves materials at the nanoscale. The term "nanoscale" means the size range from about 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.

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