Who is the Nanotechnology Workforce?

Who is working in the nanotech industry – as opposed to doing academic research involving nanomaterials? 

The New Haven Independent reports that no study has fully answered that question, and estimates vary widely.   However, researchers at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California at Santa Barbara are tackling the question. 

IRG-3 leader, Barbara Herr Harthorn, and her research team identified 1,500 firms worldwide that either produce, process or handle nanomaterials. From that list, they surveyed a sample of 500 companies. About 24 percent responded.
That’s 78 companies, employing over 960,000 workers. 

Harthorn asked companies how many workers deal with nanomaterials, and what they do to stay safe.

Sixty-one percent of the companies responding cited “lack of information” as the biggest
impediment to implementing an environmental health and safety (EHS) program specific to nanotechnology. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other agencies have published suggested guidelines for limiting exposure to nanomaterials, but Harthorn suggests that information is not always readily available.   “It’s a huge amount of work right now to find that information,” Harthorn said.

Read the full NHI article here.
July 27, 2010