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Growing use of nanomaterials spurs research to investigate possible downsides
Date:6/13/2008

TEMPE, Ariz. Potential risks from the use of nanomaterials will be explored by three Arizona State University engineering faculty in a project supported by a $400,000 grant from the U.S.Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Nanomaterials are becoming more prevalent in our lives each day. These are particles of less than 100 nanometers less than one one-thousandth the width of a human hair composed of metals, carbon, polymers or semiconductors. They are increasingly used in clothes and cosmetics, plastics and cleaning solutions, skin lotions and bandages.

Nanoparticles offer an array of benefits. They have been found to effectively improve methods of cleaning up water pollution. They are helping produce medical advances by acting as carriers of medicinal drugs to specific parts of the body for fighting cancer. They are used to strengthen plastics and rubber, to make clothing more durable, sunscreen lotions more protective and antibacterial solutions more potent.

But while the properties of nanoscale materials can improve such products, there's growing concern about the impact of some nanoparticles when they find their way inside our bodies or out into the environment.

"We are exposed to engineered nanomaterials through our skin, eyes, nose and mouth. They get transported into waterways and soils. And we are just not certain if they are detrimental in any way," explains Jonathan Posner, an assistant professor in Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering in ASU's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Posner's partners in the research project are Paul Westerhoff, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Trevor Thornton, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

They will examine how and where nanomaterials get transported and what environmental and biological risks th
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Contact: Joe Kullman
joe.kullman@asu.edu
480-965-8122
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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