Are Man-Made Nanomaterials Toxic? EPA Bestows Nearly $600,000 to Find Out

Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating extremely small particles--those ranging in size range of 1 to 100 nanometers--is one of the fastest growing technologies in the global business, scientific, and safety communities. Manmade nanomaterials are found in hundreds of consumer products such as cosmetics, clothing, and personal care products. But are they safe?

EPA has awarded two grants totaling almost $600,000 to Oregon State University (OSU) for research designed to answer that question. Specifically, the grant studies will evaluate whether some man-made nanomaterials could be toxic to human health.

The first OSU grant award, for $400,000, will screen a wide range of commonly manufactured nanomaterials to determine their potential interactions with biological processes. If the OSU research team finds nanomaterials that produce adverse effects, they will identify the potential cellular and genetic targets of these nanomaterials and group the particles by composition and effects.

The second OSU grant award, for $199,993, will determine how man-made nanomaterials could damage or kill cells. Dr. Alan Bakalinsky is studying the relationship between specific characteristics of nanoparticles, like shape and structure, and their effects on cells. The work is expected to lead to the development of safety guidelines for industrial and environmental exposure to nanomaterials.

For more information about EPA’s nanotechnology research program, visit http://www.epa.gov/ncer/nano. For information about the federal investment in nanotechnology research, visit http://www.nano.gov.

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