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EPA Grants $5 Million to ASU for Nanomaterial Research

April 11
14:39 2014

Arizona State University (ASU) has received a $5 million Federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to research the effects of nanomaterials on human health and the environment.

asu research labThe four-year grant is part of the Life Cycle of Nanomaterials Project focused on the safety of nanomaterials from manufacture to use to disposal of products containing the submicroscopic particles.

A nanoparticle is less than 100 nanometers in size. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Really small stuff. Too small to be seen with the naked eye, or even conventional lab microscopes. Nature has been onto nanotechnology since the beginning of time. Natural nanoparticles are all around us, in the water, earth, air, animals and plants.

Nanomaterials are engineered materials made of nanoparticles. Often referred to as engineered nanomaterials, or ENMs, these man-made materials can have unique optical, magnetic, electrical, and other properties. ENMs are used in a growing number of consumer products today, from computer chips to cosmetics to clothing and more.

While nanomaterials have shown great potential in electronics, medicine and other fields, we still know relatively little about their effects on human health and the environment. ASU’s research will help minimize these risks and enable the design of safer products.”–Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest

Arizona State University’s research will evaluate the trade-offs between the benefits of nanomaterials in consumer products and the potential risks to humans and the environment.

Nanomaterials provide clear benefits for many products, but there remains a big knowledge gap about how, or if, nanomaterials are released from consumer products into the environment as they move through their life cycles. We hope to help industry make sure that the kinds of products that engineered nanomaterials enable them to create are safe for the environment”–Paul Westerhoff, ASU Associate Dean of Research

In September 2012, EPA partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage collaboration in studying chemical management issues, including design, manufacture, use, and disposal. In 2013, NSF awarded more than $16 million in grants to Yale University, University of Kansas, University of Arizona and Colorado State University for research on sustainable molecular design of chemical alternatives.

For more information on the chemical life cycle grants issued by EPA, click here or visit: http://epa.gov/ncer/ncclcs.

More information on the sustainable molecular design awards issued by NSF can be found here.

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