Health fears have recently been raised over the nanotechnologies that are being used within building materials. Able to manipulate the materials atom by atom, research has found that these technologies could pose serious risks to workers.
Specifically, the tiny particles and fibres within them could be potentially dangerous for tradespeople. In fact, they could pose similar health issues to that of Asbestos!
With the risk of inhaling these particles, that are moving freely through the air, suggestions have even been made that almost half of all building materials could end up containing nanomaterials by 2025. Consequently, this could potentially have serious implications for workers’ health.
Researchers from Loughborough University have therefore issued a guide. Put together for companies and their workers, it details how to minimise the dangers and risks of nanomaterials. The project lead stated: “The team found that nanomaterials are used primarily in surface coatings, concrete, window glass, insulation and steel in different ways and to differing extents.”
“Some nanomaterials, such as certain types of carbon nanotube (CNT), are reported as potentially harmful, but these do not currently seem to be in common usage in the UK.”
“In terms of risk, even problematic nanomaterials such as long, straight CNTs will not be hazardous as long as they are embedded in a solid, stable structure.”
“Risk only arises if workers are exposed to certain nanoparticles or nanofibres in the form of dusts or aerosols; this might occur during construction or demolition activities.”
Sponsored by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, their Director of Professional Services, added: “It’s vital that the industry works together in sharing information about nanomaterials used in products more effectively.”
“Steps such as this will help increase our knowledge and make a real difference in improving occupational safety and health practice.”
Nanomaterials are just one of the many dangers on site though. In fact, while Asbestos is no longer used in construction, it still kills twenty construction workers a week! Take a look at the full report here.
Alongside this, additional health issues are also on the rise. This includes Hand Arm Vibration syndrome. In fact, there has been a 42% increase in this injury. Take a look at the full report here.
So what do you think of this? Could you be at risk? Let us know in the comments below.