WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are collaborating in a worldwide research effort to assess any potential impacts of nanomaterials on people’s health and the environment. Nanomaterials appear in many household products ranging from clothing to building materials. One ongoing study evaluates the potential human and environmental effects from exposure to copper nanomaterials, an ingredient in wood-treatment products.

The emerging field of nanotechnology has led to substantial advances in energy, medicine, electronics and clean technologies. The field relies on using materials at the nanoscale level; these nanomaterials are made up of very small particles, which are about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

EPA's collaborative research with CSPC is part of a larger international effort that focuses on: identifying, characterizing and quantifying the origins of nanomaterials; studying biological processes affected by nanomaterials that could influence risk; determining how nanomaterials interact with complex systems in the human body and the environment; involving industry to develop sustainable manufacturing processes; and sharing knowledge through innovative online applications that allow for rapid feedback and accelerated research progress.

CPSC, in working with other federal agencies, ensures that common public health concerns are met and will use research findings to inform protocol development to assess the potential release of nanomaterials from consumer products, credible rules for consumer product testing to evaluate exposure, and determination of the potential public health impacts of nanomaterial used in consumer products.

The research is a part of the U.S. government’s efforts to assess the potential risks of nanomaterials. The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) coordinates these efforts. NNI is a collaborative project comprised of 25 agencies, including EPA and CPSC.