AECOM Environment, UCSB to Study Nanotechnology Risks

AECOM Environment and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) are collaborating on the new Sustainable Nanotechnology Initiative (SNI) at the university's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, according to a March 9 press release.

Nanotechnology involves engineering at atomic-scale levels to create new materials, devices, and systems with unique properties and capabilities – the ability to manipulate matter roughly 1/100,000 the width of a human hair. While new nanotechnology-related products are brought to market daily and are impacting global industry and society, the environmental and human health risks are largely unknown. The goal of the SNI is to begin to understand the environmental risks associated with engineered nanomaterials.

AECOM’s Environmental Toxicology Lab and risk assessment group will collaborate with UCSB to study nanomaterial fate and transport, assist in exposure assessment and risk quantification and modeling, develop outreach programs and related training materials for use by industry involved in handling nanomaterials, and conduct “real world" testing of methods and instrumentation for the detection and characterization of nanomaterials.

“New nanotechnology-related products are already impacting global industry and society, and the Bren School’s SNI is critical to helping industry and the public understand the health and environmental implications of nanomaterials,” said Robert Weber, AECOM Environment Group chief executive. “Our collaboration provides another platform to share expertise and positions us to better assist our clients in addressing issues associated with some nanomaterials.”

AECOM Environment is also working on nanotechnology projects for other public- and private-sector clients, including aquatic toxicity studies for a major commercial producer of carbon nanotubes that will help determine how wastewater discharge from the production of these materials affects aquatic species.

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