HAMMOND – An inaugural workshop on the safe use of nanomaterials in environmental remediation will be held at Southeastern Louisiana University June 5-7, 2013.
With increased use of nanotechnology and nanomaterials in the cleanup of hazardous sites, there is now a growing body of evidence that exposure to these materials may have adverse health effects, said conference organizer Ephraim Massawe, assistant professor of occupational safety, health and environment.
"The applications and results of nano-enabled strategies and methods for environmental remediation are increasingly promising," Massawe said. "The challenge is ensuring that such applications are both safe and sustainable."
The event, "Nano-4-Rem-Anssers 2013: Applications of Nanotechnology for Safe and Sustainable Environmental Remediations," is one of the first of its kind in the Southeast which has been designed to provide an opportunity for involved parties to share perspectives, pose questions and develop ideas for generating solid guidelines for best work practices that support safe and sustainable nano-enabled environmental remediation.
Southeastern is sponsoring the event with other agencies and institutions, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and in conjunction with the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO).
The program will include case studies of nano-enhanced clean up technologies, including selection criteria for alternative remediation strategies and methods, job planning and tasks, and safe material handling practices. Other issues to be discussed are updates of toxicity studies, fate and transport of nanoparticules in soils and groundwater, and nanoinformatics.
Expected participants include representatives from the environmental remediation community, nanomaterial vendors, industry, health and safety regulatory agencies, higher education including faculty and students, and state and federal government agencies. Exhibitors will include companies showcasing instruments, equipment and new technologies used in environmental remediation and nanomaterial monitoring.
Additional details on the program and registration information can be found on the conference website southeastern.edu/nano-4-rem-anssers.
Massawe said because of the infancy of nanotechnology science in environmental remediation, little is known about the fate and transportation of nanomaterials or their toxicity in the human body and the environment. Some initial animal studies, he said, suggest that some nanomaterials could be linked to lung diseases, cancers, brain tumors and pregnancy complications.
At least 30 Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites across the nation are currently using nanomaterials in remediation operations at experimental or full-scale operations, he said.
The workshop builds on work Massawe initiated last year under a NIOSH grant to explore the information and technical needs of state and local governmental agencies and programs across the country for health and safety oversight of nano-remediation and a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to develop exposure models for estimating human health risks during nano-enhanced remediation of Superfund sites.