Nanotechnology Guidelines for Safe Research

The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative defines nanotechnology as the understanding and control of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers (a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter), where unique phenomena enable novel applications.

Engineered nanoparticles are intentionally created particles with nanoscale dimensions. Nanoparticles can be spheres, rods, tubes, and other geometric shapes. They may be bound to surfaces or substrates, put into solution or suspension, attached to a polymer, or in a few cases handled as dry powder.

Limited information is currently available on the toxicity of a few types of nanoparticles. When research involves work with engineered particles for which no toxicity data is yet available, it is prudent to assume the nanoparticles may be toxic.

Follow the safety guidelines below to protect yourself from possible hazards.

  1. Required - The PI must provide appropriate, rigorous, and documented safety training.
  2. Have a safety protocol written into the research procedure.
  3. Make sure everyone understands what to do in case of emergency.
  4. Ensure that employees who work with reactive nanoparticles complete fire extinguisher training and other required EH&S trainings for the lab.
  5. Evaluate the hazards before beginning work.
  6. Wear appropriate PPE.
  7. Handle nanoparticles whenever possible in a form that is not easily made airborne, such as in solution or on a substrate.
  8. Prepare for spills. Clean up only very small quantities and only if you have been properly trained.
  9. Treat any exposure seriously, no matter how slight it may seem. Report to EH&S using this link. Report | Environmental Health and Safety | Florida International University (
  10. Treat all waste engineered nanoparticles as hazardous waste unless they are known to be non-hazardous. Follow EH&S policies on hazardous waste disposal.

Sources of Nanoparticles

Sources of Nanoparticles