We can't see them, but nanomaterials, both natural and human-made, are literally everywhere, from our personal care products to our building materials--we're even eating and drinking them.
At the NSF-funded Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), headquartered at Duke University, scientists and engineers are researching how some of these nanoscale materials affect living things. One of CEINT's main goals is to develop tools that can help assess possible risks to human health and the environment. A key aspect of this research happens in mesocosms, which are outdoor experiments that simulate the natural environment - in this case, wetlands. These simulated wetlands in Duke Forest serve as a testbed for exploring how nanomaterials move through an ecosystem and impact living things.
CEINT is a collaborative effort bringing together researchers from Duke, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky, Stanford University, and Baylor University. CEINT academic collaborations include on-going activities coordinated with faculty at Clemson, North Carolina State and North Carolina Central universities, with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Environmental Protection Agency labs, and with key international partners.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1266252, Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology.