In recent years there have been many reports of new construction products with innovative properties, such as very high-strength concrete, selfcleaning windows and novel insulation materials. Many of these products are facilitated by nanotechnology: technological advances in electron microscopes have enabled the study and manipulation of matter at an atomic level. This new science has supported acceleration in the development of new products. It has been suggested that nanomaterials might account for up to half of our building materials by 2025.
However, concerns have been raised that some nanomaterials may be hazardous due to the presence of very small particles. There have also been similarities observed between some nanomaterials and asbestos fibres.
The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has recently published a report based on research by a team of Loughborough University researchers on nanotechnology safety. The research was carried out to improve understanding of how nanomaterials are being used in construction and what health risks might arise for those constructing or, in the future, refurbishing or demolishing buildings. A supplementary guide has also been developed for health and safety practitioners and industry stakeholders on how to minimise any risks.
The full report and supplementary guidance can be found here.