Navigation Links
Duke to lead new NSF, EPA center to study the environmental implications of nanotechnology
Date:9/17/2008

DURHAM, NC--The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have awarded $14.4 million to create the Center for Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT) to explore the potential ecological hazards of nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are as much as a million times smaller than the head of a pin, and have unusual properties compared with larger objects made from the same material. These unusual properties make nanomaterials attractive for use in everything from computer hard-drives to sunscreens, cosmetics and medical technologies. However, the environmental implications of these materials are virtually unknown.

The CEINT research team plans to define the relationship between a vast array of nanomaterials from natural to manmade to incidental, byproduct nanoparticles and their potential environmental exposure, biological effects, and ecological consequences. Nanomaterials that are already in commercial use as well as several present in nature will be among the first materials studied.

"A distinctive element of the CEINT will be the synthesis of information about nanoparticles into a rigorous risk assessment framework, the results of which will be transferred to policy-makers and society at large," said CEINT director Mark Wiesner, James L. Meriam Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. Wiesner specializes in nanoparticle movement and transformation in the environment.

CEINT's core research team brings together internationally recognized leaders in environmental toxicology and ecosystem biology; nanomaterial transport, transformation, and fate in the environment; biogeochemistry of nanomaterials and incidental airborne particulates; nanomaterial chemistry and fabrication; and environmental risk assessment, modeling, and decision sciences. CEINT deputy director Gregory V. Lowry from Carnegie Mellon University and co-principal investigator Kimberly Jones from Howard University each specialize in nanoparticle movement and transformations in the environment. Mike Hochella, a nanogeochemist from Virginia Tech, and Rich Di Giulio, an ecotoxicologist from Duke are also co-principal investigators. Rounding out the team are CEINT collaborators Gordon Brown, a geochemist from Stanford University and Paul Bertsch, a soil scientist from the University of Kentucky.

One activity for the research team over the coming year is to develop 32 tightly controlled and highly instrumented ecosystems in the Duke Forest in Durham, N.C. Known as mesocosms, these living laboratories provide areas where researchers can add nanoparticles and then study the resulting interactions and effects on plants, fish, bacteria and other elements.

"This mesocosm facility will be the nano-environment equivalent of the space station a unique resource with tremendous potential that will be tapped by researchers throughout the center and beyond," said Wiesner.

The teams' plan to study manufactured, naturally occurring, and incidental nanoparticles recognizes that if data on nanoparticle risk are to be meaningfully interpreted, it is critical to quantify the relative exposures presented by these various sources of nanomaterials. Given that the potential diversity of nanomaterials is staggering, with countless variations in size, shape, surface chemistry, chemical composition, coatings and composites, the team's task is daunting, Wiesner said.

"Such research will address the influence of nanomaterials on processes ranging in scale from the subcellular to whole ecosystems," Wiesner continued. "We hope to explain factors controlling nanomaterial exposure, persistence, bioavailability, toxicity, metabolism, transfer through the food chain, and impacts on population evolution and critical ecosystem functions."

"CEINT will provide an unprecedented opportunity to develop a new technology, in this case nanotechnology, in a sustainable manner with respect to the environment and human health,'' said Lowry, center deputy director and an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. "Identifying which nanomaterial properties are most environmentally benign enables the development of nanotechnologies with those desirable properties.''

CEINT will also collaborate with the newly formed International Alliance for NanoEHS Harmonization (IANH) , whose charter is to establish protocols for reproducible toxicological testing of nanomaterials in both cultured cells and animals. Universal standards for nanomaterials research and risk assessment will enable researchers to compare and contrast work conducted at laboratories around the world.

According to Lowry, another significant goal of the center is to develop the human capital needed for the U.S. to be competitive in the global nanotechnology marketplace. "CEINT will prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers in technology, and will use nanotechnology as a platform to promote science, technology, engineering and math to primary and secondary school students,'' he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Deborah Hill
dahill@duke.edu
919-660-8403
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Georgia Tech/Emory Center to study origin of life
2. Woods Hole Research Center to lead undergraduate initiative in the Siberian Arctic
3. $10 million gift to support cutting-edge epigenome center at USC
4. 3 Columbia University Medical Center faculty elected to Institute of Medicine
5. NHGRI funds new Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research
6. NYUs Center for Genomics & Systems Biology receives $4.4 million NSF grant
7. Monsanto expands sponsorship for Peking-Yale Joint Agrobiotechnology Center
8. Woods Hole Research Center debuts new image mosaic that will strengthen global forest monitoring
9. DFG to establish 10 new collaborative research centers
10. Ireland Cancer Center researchers advance stem cell gene therapy
11. Manomet Center awarded major NFWF grant to foster shorebird conservation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator ... of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified ... architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises ... over 15 million users across the financial services industry, ... product suites and physical access represent a growing portion ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 Trends, opportunities and ... and behavioral), by technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial ... and others), by end use industry (government and law ... financial and banking, and others), and by region ( ... , Asia Pacific , and the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... BioMedGPS announces expanded coverage of ... newest module, US Hemostats & Sealants. , SmartTRAK’s US Market for Hemostats and ... synthetic sealants and biologic sealants used in surgical applications. BioMedGPS estimates the market ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most ... you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and ... unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes ... each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related ... the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For the ... won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to ... Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM ...
Breaking Biology Technology: