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

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