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Advancing the Eco-Responsible Design and Disposal of Engineered Nanomaterials (Workshop 3)

An Invitation Only International Workshop

9 -10 March 2009

Rice University, Hilton Houston Plaza Hotel/Medical Center

Houston, Texas

Meeting Report and Articles

Final Workshop Report: Advancing the Eco-Responsible Design and Disposal of Engineered Nanomaterials
(Issued February 2, 2010)

ACS Nano Article - Nano Focus Section: (citation is ACS Nano, 2009, 3 (7), pp 1616–1619)
"Research Priorities to Advance Eco-Responsible Nanotechnology", by Pedro J. J. Alvarez, Vicki Colvin, Jamie Lead and Vicki Stone
(Link is to abstract of paper - paper is not open access)

Abstract:  Manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) are rapidly being incorporated into a wide variety of commercial products with significant potential for environmental release, which calls for eco-responsible design and disposal of nanoenabled products. Critical research needs to advance this urgent priority include (1) structure−activity relationships to predict functional stability and chemistry of MNMs in the environment and to discern properties that increase their bioavailability, bioaccumulation, and toxicity; (2) standardized protocols to assess MNM bioavailability, trophic transfer, and sublethal effects; and (3) validated multiphase fate and transport models that consider various release scenarios and predict the form and concentration of MNMs at the point of exposure. These efforts would greatly benefit from the development of robust analytical techniques to characterize and to track MNMs in the environment and to validate models and from shared reference MNM libraries.

First two paragraphs of the article “The nanotechnology revolution has great potential to enhance a wide variety of products, services, and industries. This promise, however, is challenged by the concern that some manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) have the potential to become hazardous pollutants that threaten public and environmental health. Currently, MNMs are being incorporated into a broad range of commercial products at a rapid rate, which is outpacing the development of knowledge and regulations to mitigate their potential environmental impacts”.

“Motivated by this concern, and recognizing an opportunity to steward nanotechnology as a tool for sustainability rather than a future environmental liability, the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Natural Environment Research Council, and British and Science & Innovation Network, British Consulate- General Houston, recently hosted an international multidisciplinary workshop at Rice University (Houston, TX) to reflect on the state of-the-art in nanotoxicology research and to identify the critical knowledge gaps that should be addressed to enable ecoresponsible design and disposal of nanoenabled products. The following is a distillation of critical discussions and ideas generated by more than 50 leading experts from North America and Europe”.

C&E News Article; Sustainable Nanotech
"Workshop prioritizes research and regulatory needs for safe design, disposal of nanomaterial-containing products", by Britt Erickson


Specific Meeting Information

Agenda and talks   Suggested Reading List
Expected Attendees   Informational Flyer
Workshop Format Workshop 1 and 2 Information
Theme Topic Descriptors   Download Priority Issue Identification Form (fill out and return before workshop)

This invitation only workshop is the third in a series of workshops designed to engage an international, multidisciplinary group of experts in developing a framework for understanding the interactions of nanoparticles (NPs) with living systems. Following the prior focus on health related impacts, this workshop will emphasize the tools and practices needed to assess environmental impacts and behavior.

Discussion Topics:

  • Theme 1: Eco-Responsible Design—Engineering Environmentally Benign Nanoparticles
    • Metrology, quantification and tracing NPs in the atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic environment
    • Structure-Activity Relationships for Nanoparticles in the Environment
    • Toward Predicting Multimedia Fate and Transport
    • Computational Modeling of Nanoparticle Modifications in the Environment

  • Theme 2: Eco-Responsible Disposal—Waste Management of Nanomaterials throughout Lifecycle
    • Responsible Minimization and Disposal of Nanomaterial Production Wastes
    • Release and Exposure Scenarios/Source Dynamics
    • Impact of Nanoparticles on Ennvironmental Protection Infrastructure
    • Information Needs for Waste Disposal Companies and Recyclers

The themes will be discussed within an over-arching framework related to risk assessment and management and the environmentally responsible design, use and disposal of NPs in the environment. Themes for discussion are deliberately open-ended and not prescriptive to encourage wide-ranging discussion.

Planning Committee:
Pedro Alvarez, Rice University (co-chair)
Jamie Lead, University of Birmingham
Vicki Colvin, Rice University
Tracy Hester, Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP
Barbara Karn, US EPA
Kristen Kulinowski, Rice University
Vicki Stone, Napier University


"This workshop is being supported by the International Council on Nanotechnology, the British Consulate, the National Science Foundation (Award Number CBET-0903936), Nanonet (UK), the Texas - UK Collaborative, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP and the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy".


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This work is supported in part by the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Initiative of the National Science Foundation
under NSF Award Number EEC-0118007.

Rice University