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Environmental and human health effects of manufactured nanomaterials.

The purpose of this collaborative research program is to strengthen support by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of research un the potential implications of nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials on human health and the environment. Research areas of interest include the toxicology, fate, transport/transformation, and bioavailability of nanomaterials, as well as human exposures to these materials. Proposals should address one of these topics.

The EPA supports research to meet its mission of protecting the environment and human health. Information used in risk assessment, which comprises hazard identification and exposure assessment, is central to the EPA's methods to meet its mission. As such, the EPA is interested in funding research on the possible risks and exposure routes of newly produced chemicals and materials at the nanoscale.

At the NSF, proposals should assist and enable the engineering and scientific communities to advance the frontiers of research, innovation, and education. The research should focus on emerging and potentially transformative research ideas, application of new expertise, or new approaches to established research topics.

NIOSH supports research to identify and investigate the relationships between hazardous working conditions and associated occupational diseases and injuries; to develop more sensitive means of evaluating hazards at work sites, as well as methods for measuring early markers of adverse health effects and injuries; to develop new protective equipment, engineering control technology, and work practices to reduce the risk of occupational hazards; and to evaluate the technical feasibility or application of a new or improved occupational safety and health procedure, method, technique, or system.

Nanotechnology has been defined by the interagency Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology of the federal Office of Science and Technology Policy as research and technology development at the atomic, molecular, or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1- to 100-nanometer (nm) range, to provide a fundamental understanding of phenomena and materials at the nanoscale, and to create and use structures, devices, and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size. The novel and differentiating properties and functions are developed at a critical length scale of matter typically under 100 nm. Nanotechnology research and development includes manipulation under control of the nanoscale structures and their integration into larger material components, systems, and architectures. Within these larger-scale assemblies, the control and construction of their structures and components remains at the nanometer scale. In some particular cases, the critical length scale for novel properties and phenomena may be under 1 nm (e.g., manipulation of atoms ~0.1 nm) or larger than 100 nm (e.g., nanoparticle-reinforced polymers have the unique feature at ~200-300 nm as a function of the local bridges or bonds between the nanoparticles and the polymer). See more information.

Many industries are currently involved in nanotechnology-related activities. Among these activities is the manufacture of nanoscale materials that are used in a wide range of products, such as sunscreens, composites, medical devices, and chemical catalysts. According to data collected by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the quantity of manufactured nanoscale materials is expected to grow significantly in the next five years. Business Communications Company has projected a $10 billion global demand for nanoscale materials, tools, and devices in 2010. This large increase in demand and production could lead to environmental exposures of humans and other organisms to nanoscale materials.

There is a serious lack of information about the human health and environmental implications of manufactured nanomaterials, e.g., nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, fullerene derivatives, and other nanoscale materials. Environmental and other safety concerns about nanotechnology have been raised. As part of the missions of the EPA and NIOSH to protect human health and the environment, this solicitation requests research proposals that address potential health and environmental concerns of nanomaterials using the best science available, in keeping with the missions of the NSF and the other agencies.

Potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology might arise as a result of the nature of the nanoparticles themselves, the characteristics of the products made from them, or aspects of the manufacturing process involved. The large surface area, crystalline structure, and reactivity of some nanoparticles may facilitate transport in the environment or lead to harm because of their interactions with cellular material. The size of nanomaterials could facilitate and exacerbate any harmful effects caused by the composition of the material.

Some research has been done on inhalational and dermal exposure to nanoparticles. However, the current research on ultrafine particles may not be applicable to manufactured nanoparticles became the ultrafine materials studied are neither a consistent size nor pure in chemical or structural composition. Exposure may occur via the dermal and ingestion routes, as well as the inhalational route. It is unknown whether nanomaterials bioaccumulate and thereby pose human health and environmental risks.

Little is known about the fate, transport, and transformation of nanomaterials after they enter the environment. As the production of manufactured nanomaterials increases and as products containing manufactured nanomaterials are disposed of, these materials could have harmful effects as they move through the environment.

The RFA sponsors are particularly interested in supporting research related to manufactured nanomaterials in the following areas:

1) Toxicology of manufactured nanomaterials. What is the toxicity/potential toxicity of manufactured nanomaterials? Can similar nanomaterials be grouped with respect to their bioactivity? What are the health effects associated with nanomaterial mixed exposures or multiple exposure routes? What are the dose-response characteristics of nanomaterials? What are appropriate testing procedures, models, and biomarkers to evaluate the potential toxicological effects of nanomaterials in humans and/or other species in natural ecosystems? What extrapolation models are needed to evaluate or predict toxicity? What is the mode of action and mechanism of toxicity? What effects may occur in exposed human and wildlife populations? Are some subpopulations more sensitive to nanomaterials? Do nanoparticles impact ecological (animal/plant) receptors?

2) Environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation of manufactured nanomaterials. By what means do/can manufactured nanomaterials enter the environment? What are the modes of dispersion for nanomaterials in the environment? Do manufactured nanoparticles undergo transformation in the environment? Do manufactured nanoparticles bioaccumulate through the food chain?

3) Exposure and bioavailability of manufactured nanomaterials. How and to what degree are humans exposed to nanomaterials in the environment and workplace? What effects may occur in exposed human populations and occupations? Are some subpopulations more vulnerable to nanomaterial exposure? What are the exposure pathways for humans? What are the effects of nanomaterials and mixtures on engineering controls and personal protective equipment? What releases might occur from the manufacturing processes of nanomaterials? At what stage in the product life cycle might exposure occur? How will changes from current processes to nanotechnology processes affect material flows of hazardous substances? What are the life cycle impacts from the manufacturing processes for nanomaterials?

Because the manufacturing of nanomaterials is not widespread and nomenclature is not standard, researchers must indicate in their proposals which nanomaterials they will use and where they will obtain them, including any needed collaboration with a materials manufacturing corporation or research lab that is synthesizing a commercially viable material. Thus, in the proposal, information on the source, potential use, composition, and present or future availability of the material being studied must be included. Researchers are encouraged to explore the appropriateness and availability of special nanotechnology user facilities at the Department of Energy; see html/centers/DOEcenters.html. The National Institute of Standards and Technology also offers user facilities; see NISTcenters.html for information.

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $7 million will be awarded, depending on the availability of funds. The EPA intends to commit up to $5 million in fiscal year 2005, NIOSH intends to commit up to $1 million, and the NSF intends to commit up to $1 million. Depending on the proposal types, 16-20 awards may be given.

For a standard (e.g., R01 type) grant, an applicant may request a project period of up to three years and a budget for total costs (direct and indirect) not to exceed $400,000 total for a three-year period. For an exploratory (e.g., R21, SGER type) grant mechanism, an applicant may request a project period of up to two years and a budget for total costs (direct and indirect) not to exceed $200,000 total for a two-year period. Although the financial plans of the EPA, NIOSH, and the NSF provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the availability of funds and the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered. This RFA will use EPA, NIOSH, and NSF award mechanisms.

Applications must be received by 5 January 2005. The complete version of this announcement is available online at 2004_manufactured_nano.html.

Contact: Barbara Karn, EPA, 202-343-9704, e-mail:; Nora Savage, EPA, 202-343-9858, e-mail:; Cynthia J. Ekstein, NSF, 703-292-7941, e-mail: cekstein@; Adele M. Childress, Office of Extramural Programs, NIOSH, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Executive Park, Bldg 24, Rm 1427, MS E-74, Atlanta, GA 30333 USA, 404-498-2509, fax: 404-498-2571, e-mail: Reference: STAR-2005-B1
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Title Annotation:Announcements / Fellowships, Grants, & Awards
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:NIGMS National Centers for Systems Biology.
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