Nanotechnology has great potential to transform science and industry in the fields of energy, material, environment, and medicine. At the same time, more concerns are being raised about the occupational health and safety of nanomaterials in the workplace and the implications of nanotechnology on the environment and living systems. Studies on environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues of nanomaterials have a strong influence on public acceptance of nanotechnology and, eventually, affect its sustainability. Oversight and regulation by government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play significant roles in ensuring responsible and environmentally friendly development of nanotechnology. The EHS studies of nanomaterials can provide data and information to help the development of regulations and guidelines. We present research results on three aspects of EHS studies: physico-chemical characterization and measurement of nanomaterials; emission, exposure, and toxicity of nanomaterials; and control and abatement of nanomaterial releases using filtration technology. Measurement of nanoparticle agglomerates using a newly developed instrument, the Universal NanoParticle Analyzer (UNPA), is discussed. Exposure measurement results for silicon nanoparticles in a pilot scale production plant are presented, as well as exposure measurement and toxicity study of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Filtration studies of nanoparticle agglomerates are also presented as an example of emission control methods.
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Acknowledgments Preparation of this article was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant #0608791, ‘‘NIRT: Evaluating Oversight Models for Active Nano-structures and Nanosystems: Learning from Past Technologies in a Societal Context’’ (Principal Investigator: S. M. Wolf; Co-PIs: E. Kokkoli, J. Kuzma, J. Paradise, and G. Ramachandran). The research was also partially supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Grant #1RC2ES018741-01 (sub-grant 100029-D) on ‘‘Hazard Assessment and Risk Estimation of Inhaled Nanomaterials Exposure’’ and by the NSF Grant #0646236 on ‘‘Experimental and Numerical Simulation of the Fate of Airborne Nanoparticles from a Leak in a Manufacturing Process to Assess Worker Exposure.’’ The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF or NIEHS.