Wyoming U funded for research on nanomaterials in drinking water

The University of Wyoming, USA, announced on 4 November 2011, that Jonathan Brant, assistant professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering, had received a US$ 300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the ability of water treatment plants to remove manufactured nanomaterials from drinking water.

Manufactured nanomaterials are tiny, microscopic particles with unique properties, such as being unaffected by gravity, which engineers and scientists use to develop materials and products. The use of these materials continues to expand, and because of the expansion and the wealth this technology holds, understanding potential hazards is essential.

In Brant's research, the focus is on determining how well existing water treatment systems can serve as a barrier to different manufactured nanomaterials.

"Some nanoparticles have been found to be extremely toxic to a variety of aquatic life and human cell lines," Brant says. "But it is not known for certain, and more research continues to be conducted on the toxicity."

After three years, the research team aims to better understand the overall risk posed by manufactured nanomaterials.

"The consumption of water is the biggest exposure route of pollutants to individuals," Brant says. "Our research aims to determine how safe drinking water is when it comes to manufactured nanomaterials."

Research into manufactured nanomaterials is relatively new, but it is a concern internationally. Over the course of their research, the university will work with the Centre Europeen de Researche et d'Enseignement des Geosciences de l'Environment (CEREGE) in France.

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