The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded grants worth $5 billion Thursday for a study of the health and environmental effects of nanotechnology.
Nanomaterials are created by working at the molecular level, atom by atom, and range in size from 1 to 100 nanometers.
Because of their size and unique properties, the EPA says research is needed to learn if nanoparticles in manufactured products can enter the human body, and if so, how long they remain. Similarly, EPA officials said, researchers will study the fate and transport of nanoparticles in the environment.
"This emerging field has the potential to transform environmental protection. Researchers are now testing iron nanoparticles that could clean up pollutants in large areas of groundwater cheaper and more effectively than any existing techniques," said George Gray, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Research and Development.
"At the same time, we must understand whether nanomaterials could negatively impact health or the environment," added Gray. "This research will help determine the viability of nanotechnology as a tool for protecting our environment."
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
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