Nanotechnology Project


Contaminated Site Remediation: Are Nanomaterials the Answer?

Thursday, February 4, 2010, 12:30-1:30 PM (Light lunch at Noon)

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5th Floor Conference Room - Directions

WASHINGTON – A new review article appearing in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) co-authored by Dr. Todd Kuiken, research associate for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), Dr. Barbara Karn, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Marti Otto, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency focuses on the use of nanomaterials for environmental cleanup. It provides an overview of current practices; research findings; societal issues; potential environment, health, and safety implications; and possible future directions for nanoremediation. The authors conclude that the technology could be an effective and economically viable alternative for some current site cleanup practices, but potential risks remain poorly understood.

According to Dr. Kuiken, “Despite the potentially high performance and low cost of nanoremediation, more research is needed to understand and prevent any potential adverse environmental impacts, particularly studies on full-scale ecosystem-wide impacts. To date, little research has been done.”

In its 2004 report Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, the British Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering recommended that the use of free manufactured nanoparticles be prohibited for environmental applications such as remediation until further research on potential risks and benefits had been conducted. The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) called for further risk research in 2005 while acknowledging environmental remediation technology as one of nanotechnology’s potential benefits.

To coincide with the release of the EHP article, PEN is making available a newly updated online map of nanoremediation sites around the globe. The map shows nearly 60 sites where nanomaterials have been used and includes detailed information on the contaminants treated and the nature of the treatment.

PLEASE NOTE: This event will not be webcast live. It will be recorded and made available 1-3 days after the event.

Download the presentation slides here.