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Think green, UO's Hutchison says, to reduce nanotech hazards
Date:3/31/2008

for most materials, often resulting in batch-to-batch variability in composition and purity." Impurities, he says, are hard to detect, difficult to extract and may obscure the real effects of nanomaterials.

In his article, Hutchison argues that "interdisciplinary teams that partner life, environmental and nanomaterial scientists need to work together to define standard approaches and share expertise to accelerate the collection of definitive data on nanomaterial hazards."

He has carried that message to numerous meetings of scientists involved in nanotechnology, a March 10 talk at the Greener Nano 2008 meeting in Corvallis, Ore., and in a presentation Dec. 17 to the Congressional Nanotech Caucus. Safety must be at the forefront, Hutchison says, as Congress considers reauthorization of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act.

Researchers need to come out of isolated labs, Hutchison says, and work collaboratively to address design, synthesis, characterization, and biological and environmental impacts. He praises an early effort to just that: the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory, a collaborative effort of the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration. He also notes the new federally funded NanoHealth Enterprise Initiative.

In ACS Nano, Hutchison addresses how green chemistry can reduce byproducts and simplify purification. He cites, as an example, how a particular material, using conventional chemistry, takes three days to purify and results in 15 liters of solvent per gram of nanoparticle. Using a green chemistry approach, he notes, the same thing is done in 15 minutes, and "the purification method can effectively reduce solvent consumption and provide cleaner, well-defined building blocks."

The time to implement green chemistry into nanotechnology is now, he says, before the industry exits its discovery phase, in which onl
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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