NIOSH Requests Information for Developing Engineered Nanomaterials Occupational Exposure Limits

Posted on: January 9, 2020

by Caroline Miller, CIH, CSP

Hand holding beaker containing chemical - learn about the basics of the EU's REACH regulations from UL.On December 17, 2019, in a Federal Register notice, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has invited the public to provide scientific information for evaluation in the development of occupational exposure limits (OELs) for engineered nanomaterials (ENMs).  Specifically, NIOSH is requesting materials, such as published and unpublished studies, to use in the assessment of occupational health risks of exposure to ENMs.

Earlier this year, NIOSH published the Technical Report: The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process for Chemical Risk Management.  The Technical Report is the result of years of work, including gathering public input, by NIOSH. It is intended to allow users to readily and precisely designate chemicals into the occupational exposure bands (OEBs) to reduce chemical exposure to workers.  It is not meant to supplant current occupational exposure limit setting processes. NIOSH has included an E-tool to provide users with an automated means of assigning bands to chemicals as an additional resource.  See related blog article:

NIOSH is asking the public for investigations on ENMs to include human, animal, and cellular toxicology data, including but not limited to:

  • Acute, subchronic, or chronic data;
  • The physicochemical characterization of those ENMs; and
  • other information about the biological mechanisms and toxicological effects of ENMs.

NIOSH would also like information on studies that include assessing the dose-response relationships between exposure to ENMs and any adverse lung effects including inflammation, fibrosis, or neoplasia.

NIOSH will use the public input to publish another Technical Report, that may include information provided as part of this Federal Register notice.  The new draft Technical Report will include data, methods, and conclusions for developing OELs for ENMs, and will be published in a later Federal Register notice for pubic input.

Comments will be accepted until February 18, 2020 and can be submitted via mail or

Recommended Action Items:

  • Assess your chemical inventory to determine which ENMs employees are exposed to that do not have OELs.
  • Use the NIOSH guidance to assign those ENMs without OELs into OEBs.
  • Use the ENMs OEBs to implement controls to protect worker exposure to ENMs.
  • Monitor the NIOSH development of the Technical Report on developing ENMs OELs and adjust ENMs worker protection controls as necessary.


Federal Register Notice:

NIOSH Technical Report: The NIOSH occupational exposure banding process for chemical risk management. By Lentz TJ, Seaton M, Rane P, Gilbert SJ, McKernan LT, Whittaker C. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2019-132,




NIOSH, engineered nanomaterials, occupational exposure limits, chemicals, OELs

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