It is important that all workers understand the health and safety risks of their work environment. It has been demonstrated that exposure to nanoparticles can lead to potential health concerns. A 1 mL nanoparticle solution spill can contain >10^9 nanoparticles, with the particles invisible to the human eye. This nanoparticle spill can cause further contamination in the work environment as workers transfer the particles from one area to another if the nanoparticles are not properly remediated. Therefore, it is essential that effective methods be developed for early identification and clean-up of such spills to avoid potential hazards to those working with these particles. One goal of this research is to develop a methodology that is simple to implement on a global scale to rapidly detect the presence of nanoparticles in different workplace environments to accompany methods for the remediation of spills containing nanoparticles. X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy was identified as a portable solution to potentially identify the presence of and the extent of a spill containing nanoparticles. Many other techniques could also be utilized, but the ease of use at the point of contamination without the requirement of sample preparation makes this an attractive solution in nanoparticle remediation. Another goal of this research is to develop an efficient, effective and inexpensive means to remediate spills containing nanoparticle contaminants. The implementation of these remediation procedures would change how nanoparticles are treated in the workplace and promote a healthy work environment when using materials that would otherwise go unnoticed due to their small size. Remediation of nanoparticles spilled in the workplace requires a method of acknowledging that these unseen particles are appropriately being removed and to avoid spreading these particles to a wider extent throughout the workplace. Analytical techniques were used to monitor the presence of nanoparticle contaminants and, in combination with techniques to encapsulate nanomaterials within a spill, were used to assess the appropriateness of these remediation techniques for cleaning up simulated spills. These studies demonstrate a series of methods to progressively remove nanoparticle contamination from countertops in the workplace.
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Thesis advisor: Gates, Byron D.
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