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Posted: February 9, 2007

Risk research is part of the U.S. government's 2008 nanotechnology budget

(Nanowerk News) We reported on Tuesday that the National Science Foundation's 2008 budget request includes $390 million for nanotechnology.
Deep inside their budget document the NSF outlines the proposed use (pdf download 38 KB) of the requested $390 million. One Program Component Area (PCA) called "Societal Dimensions: Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)" sees its funding increase by over 12% (the largest year over year increase of all PCAs in the 2008 NSF budget) to $28.75 million.
This EHS research will address the sources of nanoparticles and nanostructured materials in the environment (in air, water, soil, biosystems, and working environment), as well as the non-clinical biological implications.
The safety of manufacturing nanoparticles is investigated in four Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSEC) and networks:
NSEC at Rice University (evolution of manufacturing nanoparticles in the wet environment),
NSEC at Northeastern University (occupational safety during nanomanufacturing),
NSEC at University of Pennsylvania (interaction between nanomaterials and cells),
National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (with two nanoparticle characterization centers at the University of Minnesota and Arizona State University).
New measurement methods for nanoparticle characterization and toxicity of nanomaterials will be investigated. Support is requested for a new multidisciplinary center to conduct fundamental research on the interactions between nano-particles and materials and the living world at all scales. An essential element of this will be research on methods and instrumentation for nano-particle detection, characterization, and monitoring, including interactions of nano-materials with cellular constituents, metabolic networks and living tissues, bioaccumulation and its effects on living systems, and the impacts of nanostructures dispersed in the environment.
This work will support regulatory and mission agencies in developing science-based standards for risk assessments, such as the standards needed by the EPA to regulate nano-materials.
Just to clarify, though, the U.S government's spending on nanotechnology is much higher than the $390 million going to the NSF. The bulk of it is spent by the Department of Defense (projected spend in 2006: $436 million; DoD 2008 nanotechnology spend not published yet). And almost nothing ($1 million) of that amount goes into EHS research.
For a detailed look at the U.S. spending on military nanotechnology see our Nanowerk Spotlight "Military nanotechnology - how worried should we be?".
Source: NSF
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