News Brief

Universities Receive Millions to Study Nano Risks

By Paula MeltonThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $5.5 million to three different research groups studying the health and environmental risks of nanotechnology—the science of manipulating very small particles in order to take advantage of unique properties displayed only at the molecular level. While nanomaterials such as antimicrobial “nanosilver” particles and thin-film photovoltaics are of increasing interest as a way to reduce manufacturing costs while increasing performance, the widespread use of nanotechnology has unknown effects (see “Is Nano a No-No? Nanotechnology Advances into Buildings,”

EBN Mar. 2008). Some nano-scale versions of common substances are toxic to humans. Also, nanoparticles are known to cross the human placenta, and research suggests that they can accumulate, undigested, in protozoan predators, earthworms, and tobacco hornworms (see “Nanosilver Particles Raise New Concerns,” EBN Sept. 2010). According to EPA, the newly funded research will focus on leaching and toxicity of certain nanomaterials, both during use and after disposal. For more information, visit

Published March 30, 2011

Paula, M. (2011, March 30). Universities Receive Millions to Study Nano Risks. Retrieved from

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April 7, 2015 - 11:39 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced its intention to review industry data on nanoscale chemicals.

EPA: This proposed rule would require that companies that manufacture certain chemical substances already in commerce as nanoscale materials notify EPA of information including production volume, methods of manufacture and processing, exposure and release information, and available health and safety data. This proposed rule is not intended to conclude that nanoscale materials as a class, or specific uses of nanoscale materials, are likely to cause harm to people or the environment. Rather, EPA would use information gathered through this reporting rule to determine if any further action under TSCA, including additional information collection, is needed. EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 90 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.