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Nanotechnology and respiratory risks, part 2

August 03, 2011
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To read Part 1 in this two-part series, click here.

Use RSL guidelines

It is recommended that companies use the respirators. There is nothing about nanoparticles that suggest you need to change the practices of how you select respirators for your employees.

RSL (respirator selection logic) is a decision-making tool developed by NIOSH to help employers choose the proper respirators for their workplaces. The RSL takes into account the Assigned Protection Factors (APF) developed by OSHA to indicate the level of protection that a respirator or a class of respirators is expected to provide.

The burden is on the employer to provide adequate protection for their employees. So choose NIOSH approved respirators

Expect inward leakage

Even the correct respirator will not completely eliminate exposure to nonmaterials. While wearing a respirator, even one that has been properly selected and you have been fit tested on, one can still get some exposure into the lungs. This exposure is known as “inward leaking,” and occurs when particles penetrate through the filter or through face seal leakage.

Very small gaps can create opportunities where nonoparticles can go around the filter and directly through the gap between the face and the respirator. It is particularly difficult to get a strong seal around the nose and chin. Fit testing can minimize the gaps, but not completely eliminate them.

Nanoparticles are unique, they have some wonderful properties, that‘s why scientists like studying them. Some of these properties may lead them to be more hazardous, but at the same time, some of the traditional rules that we use for filtering out particles and controlling worker exposures are still valid.


While this might seem overwhelming, sooner or later the safety regulations (OSHA) that other businesses worry about daily, and which the detail industry ignores, is going to come to haunt the violators.

For those who want to be in the detail business for the long-term, focus on obeying the laws now rather than later.

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