The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, is increasing its investment in understanding the potential health, safety and environmental issues related to tiny particles that are used in many everyday products such as sunscreens, cosmetics and electronics. The NIEHS will award about $13 million over a two-year period, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to bolster the NIEHS's ongoing research portfolio in the area of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs).
Engineered nanomaterials are very tiny materials about 100,000 times smaller than a single strand of hair. They represent a significant breakthrough in material design and development for industry and consumer products, including stain-resistant clothing, pesticides, tires, and electronics, as well as in medicine for purposes of diagnosis, imaging and drug delivery.
"We currently know very little about nanoscale materials' effect on human health and the environment," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency program for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Nanomaterials come in so many shapes and sizes, with each one having different chemical properties and physical and surface characteristics. They are tricky materials to get a handle on. The same properties that make nanomaterials so potentially beneficial in drug delivery and product development are some of the same reasons we need to be cautious about their presence in the environment."
The NIEHS has awarded 13 new two-year grants through the Recovery Act to develop better methods to assess exposure and health effects associated with nanomaterials. Ten of the grants were awarded through the NIH Grand Opportunities program announced in March 2009 http://www.niehs.nih.gov/recovery/nanomaterial-go.cfm, and three were funded from the NIH Challenge Grants program. All 13 are aime
|Contact: Robin Mackar|
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences