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Of fine powders, hardmetals, hazard and health risk

: Richter, V.; Potthof, A.; Pompe, W.; Gelinsky, M.; Ikonomidou, H.; Bastia, S.; Schirmer, K.; Scholz, S.; Hofinger, J.


Metal Powder Report 62 (2007), No.11, pp.12-14
ISSN: 0026-0657
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IKTS ()

We hear a lot these days about health and safety. Whether it's at work, in the home, driving between the two, or even when we're taking part in sport or gardening, HSE considerations are ever present. And while it's easy to get cheap laughs at the expense of over-zealous guardians of our 'best interests', there is no doubt that health and safety are important topics worthy of close attention. With the coming of the REACH legislation in Europe minds in industry - not least the powder metallurgy industry - have been concentrated as never before. Since June this year the legal framework that enforces REACH across the EU has demanded that manufacturers and importers of metal powders should gather information on the properties of chemical substances and their safe handling. The information has to be registered in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. While it will take time for the full power of the legislative 'bite' to be felt, with th at background, it is perhaps unsurprising that two papers at EuroPM2007 in Toulouse dealt with aspects of health and hazard associated with powder metals. The first, from a group of research partners in Germany, sketched the initial stages of work being carried out to evaluate the health risks associated with nano- and microparticles. The second, the result of collaboration between hardmetals manufacturer H C Starck and materials engineers WTP, looked at inhalation toxicity of WC - Co powders. Breathing in these powders has been known for some time to be responsible for a condition known as 'hardmetal lung', a recognised industrial disease in Germany. The researchers considered the mechanism thought to be responsible for the inflammatory action of WC/Co when inhaled and their possible carcinogenic effects on the lung, in the course of working on pre-alloyed iron hard materials....