IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

The Development and Validation of Methods for Sampling and Characterizing Engineered Nanomaterials in Air and on Workplace Surfaces


Nanotechnology is an important social issue because of the unique properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENM). The introduction by industry of processes and products developed in laboratories greatly increases the volume of engineered nanomaterials and the number of workers potentially at risk. However, studies have also shown that, mass for mass, ENM are more toxic than similar particles of larger size.

The monitoring of contamination levels of airborne ENM is a complex process with many uncertainties and limitations owing to the simultaneous presence of particles of nanometric dimensions that are not ENM, a lack of validated instruments for taking measurements in respiratory zones and diverse parameters to be measured.

In addition, there is no method for determining surface contamination. Nevertheless, the development and validation of methods for the sampling and advanced characterization (morphological analysis, agglomeration/aggregation, crystallography, elemental chemical analysis, etc.) of ENM in the air and on surfaces appear to be essential in assessing the overall risk incurred by workers exposed to them.

Funded jointly with NanoQuebec, this project, which originated with a call for proposals, is aiming to develop innovative methodologies that will allow the complete characterization of ENM particles in the air of workplaces, as well as the complete characterization of those deposited on surfaces.

Additional Information

Type: Project
Number: 2013-0059
Status: Completed
Year of completion: 2016
  • Maximilien Debia (Université de Montréal)
  • Claude Ostiguy (IRSST)
  • Gilles L'Espérance (Polytechnique Montréal)
  • André Dufresne (Université de Montréal)