-  A Nanotechnology Safety, Health and Environment Information Resource

A Nano solution to the crisis in antibiotic resistance?

nih logoSupported by 193 nations, the United Nations in a General Assembly meeting in September 2016 declared antibiotic resistance to be "the greatest and most urgent global risk." Shu Lam, a PhD student from Malaysia in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has helped create antimicrobial agents from nanotechnology that appear able to fight back against SuperBugs and other antibiotic resistant germs that kill hundreds of thousands of people annually.

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Nanomaterial Design for Environmental Health and Safety

Project Leader: Robert H. Hurt

Summary: "This project develops nano-enabled technological solutions to environmental health challenges and identifies mechanisms of nanotoxicity and principles of safe design in close collaboration with Agnes Kane in the Adverse Human Health Impacts of Nanomaterials project as part of the Brown SRP theme of Integrated Biomedical & Engineering Solutions to Regulatory Uncertainty. This integrated approach to nanotechnology applications and safety strives to create new environmental technologies while ensuring their responsible development informed by data on nanomaterial hazard."
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Adverse Human Health Impacts of Nanomaterials

Project Leader: Agnes B. Kane

Summary: "Graphene-family nanomaterials (GFNs) are emerging as commercially important carbon nanomaterials with potential applications in nanoelectronics and energy storage, nanomedicine, nanocomposites, and environmental sensing and remediation."
[More Information]

nanoNano brings advances in solar power

Researchers at the University of Texas are working to improve the efficiency of solar panels, which could lead to lower energy costs. A team is replacing silicon slabs in solar panels with cadmium telluride ink, a new synthetic material made of crystals, because the material is smaller and the crystals absorb sunlight better. [More Info]

In Switzerland, nanomaterial called graphene can take one photon and make multiple electrons which have the potential of doubling existing conversion rates. Solar panels will get smaller, and areas that have marginal value for solar generation will get a second look as panels improve efficiency.

Also nano research is finding that silicon crystals known as quantum dots can increase the charge/discharge cycles of batteries, improve computer displays, and decrease power consumption. [More Info]

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Welcome to Nanoscience: Interdisciplinary Environmental Explorations, Grades 9-12

NSTA Press Book, 2011

Guide to teaching high school students about nanotechnology and the environment through the framework of groundwater pollution.

[Excerpts from book]

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book coverResearch Progress on Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials


"Despite the increase in funding for research and the rising numbers of peer-reviewed publications over the past decade that address the environmental, health, and safety aspects of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), uncertainty about the implications of potential exposures of consumers, workers, and ecosystems to these materials persists. Consumers and workers want to know which of these materials they are exposed to and whether the materials can harm them. Industry is concerned about being able to predict with sufficient certainty whether products that it makes and markets will pose any environmental, health or safety issues and what measures should be taken regarding manufacturing practices and worldwide distribution to minimize any potential risk. However, there remains a disconnect between the research that is being carried out and its relevance to and use by decision-makers and regulators to make informed public health and environmental policy and regulatory decisions."

[More Information from Press]

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The Swift Accumulation of Nanoparticles in Wetlands

SUMMARY from the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology, Duke University:

A Duke University team has found that nanoparticles called single-walled carbon nanotubes accumulate quickly in the bottom sediments of an experimental wetland setting, an action they say could indirectly damage the aquatic food chain. The results indicate little risk to humans ingesting the particles through drinking water, say scientists at Duke’s Center for the Environmental Implications of logoNanotechnology (CEINT). But the researchers warn that, based on their previous research, the tendency for the nanotubes to accumulate in sediment could indirectly damage the aquatic food chain in the long term if the nanoparticles provide “Trojan horse” piggyback rides to other harmful molecules. The results appear online in the journal Environmental Science: Nano (2014).

[Link to Website]

[Link to Journal]

nano registry logo Registry growing

"The goal of the Registry is to archive a sufficiently large, accessible, and centralized body of integrated information to enable researchers in gaining knowledge from accumulated data. As computational tools and researchers interact with the information in the central data repository, knowledge will be extracted and used to guide new research and, ultimately, the safe use of nanomaterials."
[To find out more]

The ETUI, nanotechnologies, and health in the workplace

etui logoThe European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), a Brussels-based independent research and training center of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), continues to demand more transparency and accountability over nanomaterials in the workplace. See the ETUI’s critique of the European Commission from October 2012:
[Go to Critique]

According to the summary of an ETUI Working Paper on nanotechnology from 2010, “Nanotechnologies may be an economic opportunity that the EU cannot ignore, but their unregulated development is causing growing concern among trade unions due to the health risks posed by certain types of nanomaterials.” [More]

Scientists fear that nanomaterials could harm soil fertility and food quality

plantPatricia Holden, an environmental microbiologist at the University of California Santa Barbara, indicates that nanomaterials such as nano-zinc oxide and nano-cerium oxide can build up in crops and may under certain conditions damage soil. Nevertheless, she cautions people not to be “be scared of our soybeans. There’s still a lot we don’t know.”

 Abstract from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 11, 2012  [Link to Abstract]

Nanoparticle Pollution Could Stunt Crop Growth By Dave Mosher in Wired Magazine, August 23, 2012 [Link to Article]


Can Nanotech Save the Gulf?

Deepwater Horizon BP
Deepwater Horizon, on fire after the explosion
Source: US Coast Guard

The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, one of BP's massive oil rigs situated about 40 miles from the Louisiana coast, has been unleashing, according to some estimates, 20,000-100,000 barrels of oil daily since it exploded on April 21, 2010.

A controversial new nanotechnology dispersant may be the key to cleaning up the spill but many scientists are skeptical about the environmental impact of introducing nanoparticles into the Gulf. Full Article >

Follow Up: Cleaning up oil spills with magnets and nanotechnology

By Tom Levitt, for CNN, September 21, 2012

Oil is not magnetic, but MIT researchers say that when mixed with water-repellent nanoparticles that contain iron, the oil can be magnetically separated from the water. The nanoparticles can later be removed to enable the re-use of the oil. Full Artice>

Drinking Water From the Charles River? Nanotech Filters Make it Possible

If you ever had the chance to walk along the banks of the Charles River in either Boston or Cambridge, MA, sipping on a cool glass of the opaque, and oftentimes foul smelling water would probably not be your first thought.

Seldon Technologies, a small startup company whose headquarters are located in Vermont, claim that their carbon nanotube filter technology can turn a cup of the Charles into the cleanest and best tasting water you've ever had.

Getting the Lead Out: Nanotech Paper Batteries

At Stanford, nanotubes + ink + paper = instant battery

BY JANELLE WEAVER - Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly produce ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in the form of everyday paper. Simply coating a sheet of paper with ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires makes a highly conductive storage device, said Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. More>>>

Media: Nanotech Uses for Energy, Cancer Treatment and Water Purification

Discovery Channel Nanotech
Click on Photo to Watch the Discovery Channel Video

Tunisia Launches First Nanotech Water Purification Project

November, 1, 2010

Tunisia has launched the first project applying nanotechnology in the Arab Maghreb region of north western Africa. The project aims to monitor and purify the waters of the Medjerda River, the longest river in Tunisia. Three mobile laboratories will monitor river water, after which data will be analysed at a new research centre. The laboratories will then be mobilised to expand the project to other areas of the country. More>>>

Feynman and the Futurists

Richard Feynman and Nanotechnology
The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2010

Feynman Nanotechnology

On Dec. 29, 1959, Richard P. Feynman gave an after-dinner talk at an annual American Physical Society meeting in Pasadena, Calif. Feynman was not the public figure he would later become—he had not yet received a Nobel Prize, unraveled the cause of the Challenger accident, written witty books of popular science, or been the subject of biographies, documentaries and even a play starring Alan Alda. But the 41-year-old was already respected by fellow physicists for his originality, his crackling intellect, and his roguish charm. More>>

*NEW* Information resource on the   social impact of nanotechnology


>2016 International Nanotoxicology Congress
(June 1-4, 2016)
Boston, MA

The objective of this conference is to bring together scientists from academia, industry, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to present current research findings, focus their respective talents and expertise, and initiate new collaborations in an effort to ensure the safe implementation of nanotechnology.

nano logo>10th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials
(September 6 to 10, 2015)
Vienna, Austria

Organized by Department of Environmental Geosciences

"Bringing together researchers, regulators and industry to discuss the recent advances in the investigations of risks of current and future applications nanotechnology, along with procedures of risk management to maintain the economic and social benefits of the sector."

> Environmental Nanotechnology Gordon Research Conference
"Steps for Environmentally Safe Implementation of Nanotechnology"
(June 21-26, 2015)
Mount Snow, West Dover, VT

Increasing numbers of commercial, industrial and environmental products and processes are using nano-enabled systems. This 3rd GRC on Environmental Nanotechnology will focus on safe use of these nano-enabled systems, framing discussions around potential "steps" or considerations required.

> International Symposium on Nanotechnology in Construction (NICOM) 2015
(24–26 May 2015)
Chicago, IL

NICOM5 will bring together more than 150 international leaders in the field to discuss the emerging opportunities and future of the use of nanotechnology in construction. 

>2013 IWA Symposium on Environmental Nanotechnology
Organizers: International Water Association (IWA), University of Queensland, and the University of Cincinnati
(April 24- 27, 2013)
Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

The meeting aims at bringing together researchers, specialists, professors and students to exchange ideas and present their latest works on advances in nanotechnology and key environmental issues relating to water/wastewater treatment and water reuse.

>Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Nanotechnology
( 2-7 June 2013) Stowe, Vermont

 This GRC will offer a peek at the horizon of emerging innovations and attempt to identify potential environmental issues that must be addressed as we move into the future.  The conference attracts top scientists from around the world to speak, listen, and freely exchange ideas.

> Greener Nano 2010: 5th Annual Greener Nanoscience Conference and Program Review: "Reducing Principles to Practice"
(16-18 June ,2010)
Portland Oregon

> IEEE Green Technologies Conference Grapevine, Texas USA (Dallas-Ft. Worth) (15-16 April, 2010)
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> Nanotoxicology 2010 Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (2-4 June 2010)
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Nanotechnology News

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Fifth Sustainable
Organization Conference
November 10-12, 2016
Orlando, Florida

Theme: Sustainable Nanotechnology Systems

This conference is to bring together scientific experts from academia, industry, and government agencies from around the world to present and discuss current research findings on the theme. The SNO Conference emphasizes not only the environmental aspects of sustainability but also the societal and economic sustainability issues. The conference program will address the topics below from both a fundamental and applied viewpoint.

In these systems of interest, we ask how we are helping reach sustainability through nanotechnology:
Food/agricultural systems, Energy systems, Air/Water systems, Industry/Manufacturing (in general, not just nanomanufacturing) systems, Solid Waste (especially E-Waste) management, Environmental/Biological systems, Health/medical systems, Urban systems, Education systems, Social systems and governance.

[For more information]

Fourth Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Conference
November 8-10, 2015
Portland, Oregon

Theme: Sustainable Nanotechnology Systems

This year's SNO conference sessions will be organized around selected "systems", e.g. air-water systems. Sessions will be populated with talks on applications, effects and implications, analytical methods, and lifecycle aspects of nanomaterials within each system. The aims are to identify where nanomaterials and nanotechnology can improve the sustainability of each system and to foster integration of knowledge between applications and implications within each system.

In these systems of interest, we ask how we are helping to reach sustainability through nanotechnology:
Food/agricultural, Energy, Air/Water, Industry/Manufacturing (in general, not just nanomanufacturing), Solid Waste (especially E-Waste) management, Environmental/Biological, Health/medical, Urban, Education, and Social systems and governance.

[For more information]

Third Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Conference
November 2-4, 2014
Boston, MA

The objective of this conference is to bring together scientific experts from academia, industry, and government agencies from around the world to present and discuss current research findings on the subject of nanotechnology and sustainability. The SNO Conference emphasizes not only the environmental aspects of sustainability but also the societal and economic sustainability issues.

The conference program will address the critical aspects of sustainable nanotechnology such as life cycle assessment, green synthesis, green energy, industrial partnerships, environmental and biological fate, and the overall sustainability of engineered nanomaterials. In principle, this involves the fundamental/applied research on the chemistry of producing new green nanomaterials; eco-manufacturing processing of nanomaterials and products, using nanotechnology to benefit society, and examining possible harmful effects of nanotechnology.

The conference will also foster new collaborations between academic and industrial participants. 

[For More Information]

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7th Annual S.Net Conference
"From nanotechnologies to emerging technologies: towards a global responsibility"

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
October 18-21, 2015

The aim of this international conference is to initiate thought-provoking discussion on the sustainable and responsible development of nanotechnology and other emerging technologies. The conference will explore the following themes within an international and multidisciplinary framework at the plenary sessions.

[More information]

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The Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (S.NET) is an international association that promotes intellectual exchange and critical inquiry about the advancement of nanoscience and emerging technologies in society. S.NET represents diverse communities, disciplines, viewpoints, and methodologies in the social sciences and humanities. It also welcomes contributions from scientists and engineers that advance the critical reflection of nanoscience and other emerging technologies. Due to its multidisciplinary approach, the S.NET community addresses a broad range of questions related to the development and societal embedding of new and emerging technologies, including, but not limited to the following themes:

  • Research dynamics and organisation
  • Innovation and use
  • Governance and regulation
  • Politics and ethics
  • Visions and cultural imaginaries
  • Roles of publics and stakeholders

[For more information]

What is Nanotechnology?

"Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers (nm), where unique phenomena enable novel applications not feasible when working with bulk materials or even with single atoms or molecules. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; a single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter."

"Researchers seeking to understand the fundamentals of properties at the nanoscale call their work nanoscience; those focused on effective use of the properties call their work nanoengineering."

"Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at the nanoscale." From


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