The UC Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN) has partnered with environmental health and safety professionals from institutions of higher education across the State of California, in addition to representatives from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to create the California Nanosafety Consortium of Higher Education. The California Nanosafety Consortium of Higher Education is focused on developing and promoting safe handling and disposal of nanomaterials in academic research settings.
The first project embarked upon by the working group was to create a Nanotoolkit, which describes best practices for working safely with engineered nanomaterials in academic research settings. The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation supported the creation of the Nanotoolkit. Three graduate students in the UC CEIN, Khadeeja Abdullah (UCLA), Jessica Twining (UCSB), and Adeleye Adeyemi (UCSB) gathered guidance documents on safe handling of nanomaterials from different sectors, including academic (19), government (13), industry (4), and non-profit groups (1). They then summarized the recommended practices from all the guidance documents in a matrix and cited evidence from the primary scientific literature that either validated and/or refuted each of the recommendations. Approximately 130 relevant articles were reviewed. Once all the recommendations and evidence from the literature were gathered and compiled into a matrix, members of the California Nanosafety Consortium of Higher Education assessed each recommendation. Given that there were a lot of recommendations, we focused our assessment on the relevant categories to the research lab setting. Members of the working group rated the recommendations based on their professional judgment and the evidence from the literature. Group members also rated recommendations on the need for further testing for validation; a score of five meant it was a high priority for testing. From this analysis we identified relevant safe handling practices and areas of future research. These “best practices” were then synthesized into the recommendations provided in the Nanotoolkit.