The safety and health of our employees takes top priority.
In 2006, we established special rules for the handling of nanomaterials at workplaces which we revised in 2011 and adapted to the current state of knowledge. At workplaces where nanoparticles are handled, we conduct risk assessments to identify potential health risks. We use the results to decide upon the necessary protective measures for employees.
The VCI and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BauA) have published a guide to the handling of nanomaterials which corresponds in all essential aspects to BASF's guideline.
Early in the development of nanotechnology, we introduced measures to ensure the safe handling of nanomaterials. The principle underlying our occupational safety practice is: emissions of nano-objects (i.e. particles, platelets or fibers) and their agglomerates and aggregates into the air at workplaces should be reduced to background level. We achieve this mainly by employing low-emission types of use and operating production processes in closed systems. We already apply these principles when developing production processes, and BASF's expertise in process technology allows us to upscale them to industrial production level. But handling cannot always be confined to closed systems, for example in filling operations. We have therefore adapted our risk management at BASF specifically to meet the requirements for the safe handling of nanomaterials.
Working areas in research and production facilities handling nanomaterials are monitored by exposure measurements. Our accredited in-house analytical unit uses state-of-the-art measuring equipment which allows the determination of particle counts and particle size distribution. Our occupational safety specialists together with the toxicology experts then use the results to devise the necessary workplace protection measures.
We maintain a high quality level by taking part in interlaboratory tests. BASF also participates in various external projects such as the BMBF (German Federal Ministry for Education and Research) project NanoGEM and the EU project Nanodevice in which innovative measuring techniques are being studied. We also place our experience in measuring nanomaterials at the disposal of other interested parties in external working groups. For example, we were also involved in developing a pragmatic approach in measuring inhaled exposure to nanomaterials: VCI (German Chemical Industry Association) Guide on "Determination and Assessment of Exposure to Nanoscale Aerosols".