This study investigates the potential spread of cadmium selenide quantum dots in laboratory environments through contact of gloves with simulated dry spills on laboratory countertops. Secondary transfer of quantum dots from the contaminated gloves to other substrates was initiated by contact of the gloves with different materials found in the laboratory. Transfer of quantum dots to these substrates was qualitatively evaluated by inspection under ultraviolet illumination. This secondary contact resulted in the delivery of quantum dots to all the evaluated substrates. The amount of quantum dots transferred was quantified by elemental analysis. The residue containing quantum dots picked up by the glove was transferred to at least seven additional sections of the pristine substrate through a series of sequential contacts. These results demonstrate the potential for contact transfer as a pathway for spreading nanomaterials throughout the workplace, and that 7-day-old dried spills are susceptible to the propagation of nanomaterials by contact transfer. As research and commercialization of engineered nanomaterials increase worldwide, it is necessary to establish safe practices to protect workers from the potential for chronic exposure to potentially hazardous materials. Similar experimental procedures to those described herein can be adopted by industries or regulatory agencies to guide the development of their nanomaterial safety programmes.
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