As reported by AzoNano.com, the EPA recently announced the award of two grants, collectively worth $600,000, to researchers at Oregon State University to study the human health impacts of nanomaterials. The pair of studies look like the first step toward nanotechnology regulation. According to the AzoNano article, the first study is a survey of common manufactured nanomaterials to understand their interaction with biological processes. The second study looks specifically at how manufactured nanomaterials may "damage or kill cells:"
Dr. Alan Bakalinsky is studying the relationship between specific characteristics of nanoparticles, like shape and structure, and their effects on cells. The work is expected to lead to the development of safety guidelines for industrial and environmental exposure to nanomaterials. "We're trying to identify specific structures in manufactured nanoparticles that might cause damage to cells," said Bakalinsky. "If we can determine which shapes and structures are most dangerous to cell function, it should be possible to design the materials to avoid those shapes and minimize the risk of damage."
Both Oregon State researchers, Drs. Bakalinsky and Tanguay, look to be relatively new to the nanotechnology field. Bakalinsky is a food science researcher and Tanguay is a molecular toxicologist.