Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
On January 28, 2008, EPA issued a press release announcing the award of 21 grants totaling $7.34 million to universities to investigate potential adverse health and environmental effects of manufactured nanomaterials. As stated in the press release, "The grants were awarded through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants program in partnership with the National Science Foundation's (NSF), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) who awarded another eight grants for a total of 29. Nine of the grants focus on potential toxicity, and 12 grants study the fate and transport of nanomaterials in the environment." According to George Gray, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, "Nanotechnology is an exciting new field with the potential to transform environmental protection. But it is critical to know whether nanomaterials could negatively impact health or the environment. By performing research on potential adverse affects, EPA is doing what is right for both human and environmental health and technological progress.” A list of awardees is available at http://es.epa.gov/ncer/nano/2008recipients.html.
What are your thoughts on nanotechnology and its uses for the environment?