The World Health Organization (WHO) is soliciting comments and support for a set of occupational safety guidelines for the manufacture of nanomaterials. From the Feb. 21, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,
To address occupational risks of nanomaterials, WHO is developing Guidelines on “Protecting Workers from Potential Risks of Manufactured Nanomaterials” (WHO/NANOH). These Guidelines aim to facilitate improvements in occupational health and safety of workers potentially exposed to nanomaterials in a broad range of manufacturing and social environments. The guidelines will incorporate elements of risk assessment and risk management and contextual issues. They will provide recommendations to improve occupational safety and protect the health of workers using nanomaterials in all countries and especially in low and middle-income countries.
As an initial step towards the development of the WHO/NANOH Guidelines, WHO prepared a draft background document proposing content and focus of the Guidelines. This background document will be used by the Guideline Development Group to identify key questions to be addressed by the Guidelines.
The public is being invited to send in comments about the guidelines by March 31, 2012. The guidelines along with more instructions can be found on this WHO webpage. The page also includes information about the process for developing the guidelines and a plea for support,
1. Establish a Guideline Development Group and an External Review Group, which reflect the diversity of manufactured nanomaterials and manufacturing processes on the global scale and the cultural differences in workplace safety. The Guideline Development Group oversees important elements in the guideline development process such as drafting guideline text, while the External Review Group is tasked with critical review of the scientific evidence and of the text of the guidelines.
2. Prepare a background document proposing content and focus of the Guidelines. This background document is used by the Guideline Development Group to identify key questions to be addressed by the Guidelines.
3. Prepare systematic review papers for each key question.
4. Prepare guideline recommendations.
5. Conduct an implementation phase of the project encompassing preparation of a user-friendly implementation guide and pilot implementation projects in selected countries.
WHO is in the process of identifying scientific knowledge and expertise on nanomaterials and health to contribute to this initiative. We invite the submission of relevant scientific publications and references in addition to those already mentioned in the background document, as well as expressions of interest to support this project, which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO is also seeking additional support for this important project. We welcome expressions of interest to support this project, which also can be sent to email@example.com.
I’m perplexed by these requests for support. Do they want researchers to lend their expertise to this project; do they want money; do they want various governments to express their enthusiasm for this project, or all of the above?
I’m happy to see that they do reference the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Publications in the Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials; UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) Nanotechnology and Manufactured Nanomaterials (this is new to me); and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Nanotechnologies (also new to me).