Nanotechnology & Nanomaterials Research
|Chemical Safety Research Control of Nanomaterials||Nanomaterials Research Coordination Team||Nanomaterial Research Fact Sheet Risk Assessment|
Commercial processes and products that use nanomaterials are growing rapidly and these tiny products are increasingly found in paint, fabrics, cosmetics, treated wood, electronics and sunscreen. Nanomaterials can be 100,000 times thinner than a strand of hair and they exhibit unique properties different than the same chemical substances in a larger size. Nanomaterials provide opportunities for the development of innovative products that provide advances in technologies and medicine. EPA is using scientific methods to research what nanomaterials are, how they act, travel and change over time. This research is used by EPA's Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Office and others making chemical decisions to inform policy and regulatory decisions to better protect human health and the environment.
The unique composition/properties of nanomaterials—their size, diversity and countless uses—pose challenges to assessing the risks they pose to human health and the environment. EPA is researching the properties of nanomaterials to better detect, quantify and describe them.
- Ecosystem Health Effects Research
- Human Health Effects Research
- Detecting, quantifying and characterizing nanomaterials
- Characterizing Nanomaterial Properties
- Examining Nanoparticles Impact on Fuel Emissions and Air Pollution
EPA is using the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) approach to identify and prioritize research to support future assessments and risk management decisions.
- CEA Approach
- Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray Case Study
- Carbon Nanotube Case Study: A comparison of multi-walled carbon nanotube and decabromodiphenyl ether flame retardant coatings applied to upholstery textiles
- Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen
EPA scientists are evaluating the life cycle of consumer products (including raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, benefits of the product, use, recycling and ultimate disposal) containing nanomaterials to inventory the environmental and health impacts. The research findings can be used to update and create new risk assessments.
- Carbon nanotubes (used in flat panel television displays, automobile dashboard panel)
- Micronized Copper Treated Lumber (used to build decks on homes)
- Silver-based Nanomaterials (found in paint, fabrics)
- Titanium Dioxide (found in sunscreen)
EPA researchers have developed alternative ways to apply nanomaterials to minimize environmental and human health impacts.
- Nano Zero Valent Iron (emerging option for treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater)
- Nanoparticle useful in cleaning up "Polychlorinated Biphenyls" or PCBs
- Nanoparticles Impact of Fuel Emissions and Air Pollution
Collaborative Research Efforts
The United States government's efforts to assess nanotechnology are coordinated by the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The collaborative research project is comprised of 25 federal agencies, including EPA, all working together to integrate efforts both domestically and internationally within the private sector and the broader scientific and stakeholder communities.
Opportunities for External Institutions/Organizations
Top Three Questions
Reports & Other Resources
- Nanomaterial Case Study: Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube
- Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray (Final Report)
- EPA Science Matters Newsletter