Investigating the Impact of Nanomaterials on Living Things

Video and story courtesy of the National Science Foundation Science 360

We can't see them, but nanomaterials, both natural and manmade, are literally everywhere, from our personal care products to our building materials--we're even eating and drinking them.

At the NSF-funded Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), headquartered at Duke University, scientists and engineers are researching how some of these nanoscale materials affect living things. One of CEINT's main goals is to develop tools that can help assess possible risks to human health and the environment. A key aspect of this research happens in mesocosms, which are outdoor experiments that simulate the natural environment - in this case, wetlands. These simulated wetlands in Duke Forest serve as a testbed for exploring how nanomaterials move through an ecosystem and impact living things.

In this "Science Nation" video from NSF, CEINT director Mark WiesnerHeileen Hsu-Kim, the Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Richard Di Giulio, professor of environmental toxicology, and students describe their research looking at how natural and manmade nanoparticles accumulate in the environment and affect our ecosystems and development.

See the original article and related content on