Occupational Exposure to Nanomaterials Associated with the Use of Protective Clothing and Hood Containment

Faculty Researcher: Candace Su-Jung Tsai, Assistant Professor of Occupational Health Science at Purdue University

The lab coat fabric swatches were contaminated in a chamber placed inside the hood enclosure. We generate nanoparticle aerosols and disperse particles in the chamber to expose fabric swatches.

The lab coat fabric swatches were contaminated in a chamber placed inside the hood enclosure. We generate nanoparticle aerosols and disperse particles in the chamber to expose fabric swatches.

This study will investigate nanomaterial exposures associated with the contamination of protective clothing during handling procedures performed in fume hoods. Lab coats are typically worn to prevent occupational exposure to hazardous substances. Nanomaterials, when released as airborne nanoparticles, can cause inhalation exposure which is the route of exposure of most concern to cause adverse health effects. Lab coats can be contaminated with airborne nanoparticles during handling and operating processes. Using fume hoods to perform handling procedures is a typical task; the potential release and exposure associated with nanoparticle handling using fume hoods was first investigated by the PI. Intensive turbulent airflow was found inside traditional fume hoods and this condition could contaminate the protective clothing covering worker’s arms in particular and the front part of the lab coast, then the contaminated lab coat could release nanoparticles in the general room while performing other activities and manipulating the lab coat after work. The exposure associated with the contaminated lab coasts has not been investigated and the magnitude of contamination and exposure associated with various types of protective clothing materials are not known. The appropriate practices and controls when using protective clothing and other engineering controls are critical at this developing stage of an emerging technology to ensure the safety of workplaces.

This proposed research has the objectives to investigate exposure of airborne engineered nanoparticles released from contaminated lab coasts; investigate the magnitude of contamination to various lab coat fabrics; and provide technical results for developing advanced safe practice guidance for Occupational Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) training and education.

Publications resulting from this project:
Tsai CS. Contamination and Release of Nanomaterials Associated with the Use of Personal Protective Clothing. Annals of Occupational Hygiene. 2015;59(4):491-503. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/meu111.