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Nanotechnology | The Scale of Things-Nanometers and More | Nanotechnology Applications/Products | Nanoscience and the Department of Energy's Missions


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Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace
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Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications according to the National Technology Initiative.

Nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale. At the nanoscale, the physical, chemical, and biological properties of materials differ in fundamental and valuable ways from the properties of individual atoms and molecules or bulk matter.

Nanotechnology: Societal Implications—Maximizing Benefits for Humanity reflects the views of experts who gathered at a workshop in 2003 to discuss likely impacts of current and future advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology on the economy, quality of life, national security, education, public policy, and society at large.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health brochure, Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace, addresses the following questions: view

  1. Are nanoparticles hazardous to workers?
  2. How can workers be exposed?
  3. Can nanoparticles be measured?
  4. Can worker exposures be controlled?


“Nanoparticles are not new. Natural nanoparticles are widespread, including sea salt crystals and wind-blown dust. Many other nanoparticles in our environment are produced as byproducts of combustion, such as diesel exhaust particles or candle soot. "Take a breath in the average office today, and you will inhale about 30 million nanoparticles!”

(Human Subjects Risk in New Technologies. In: DOE Protecting Human Subjects Newsletter, No. 13. Spring 2006)