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Arizona State University Awarded $5 million in Federal Funds

Release Date: 04/10/2014
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan Perezsullivan.margot@epa,gov 415.947.4149

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $5 million research grant to Arizona State University to better understand the impacts of nanomaterials throughout their life cycle—from design, manufacture, use and disposal.

“While nanomaterials have shown great potential in electronics, medicine and other fields, we still know relatively little about their effects on human health and the environment,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “ASU’s research will help minimize these risks and enable the design of safer products.”

"Nanomaterials provide clear benefits for many products, but there remains a big knowledge gap about how, or if, nanomaterials are released from consumer products into the environment as they move through their life cycles," said Paul Westerhoff, Associate Dean of Research for ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “We hope to help industry make sure that the kinds of products that engineered nanomaterials enable them to create are safe for the environment”

Arizona State University’s research will evaluate the trade-offs between using nanomaterials to improve the functionality of consumer products and the potential risks to humans and the environment. The research proposed will address the knowledge gaps that prevent the safe development of nano-enabled products, and has the potential to improve design and processes of products with nanomaterials. Nanomaterials by definition are less than approximately 100 nanometers, too small to be seen with the naked eye or even with conventional lab microscopes.

Materials engineered to such a small scale are often referred to as engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), which can take on unique optical, magnetic, electrical, and other properties

The University of California, Santa Barbara also received $4.9 million to develop an online tool to evaluate life cycle impacts of chemicals which industry, academia and other decision makers can use to make more informed decisions about chemical and product design.

In September 2012, EPA partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage collaboration in applying principles of sustainability to chemical management issues, including design, manufacture, use, and disposal. In 2013, NSF awarded more than $16 million in grants to Yale University, University of Kansas, University of Arizona and Colorado State University for research on sustainable molecular design of chemical alternatives. These grant awards further EPA’s and NSF’s commitment to increase knowledge of chemical life cycles and sustainable chemistry.

For more information on the chemical life cycle grants issued by EPA visit:

For more information on the sustainable molecular design awards issued by NSF visit: