Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are a rapidly expanding and diversifying group of technologies with current and potential applications in a range of industrial and domestic products including clothing, agriculture, electronics, healthcare and wastewater treatment. With increased application of ENP-enabled technologies, release of ENPs into the environment will inevitably increase.

To manage this release effectively and to minimize risk to wildlife, environmental regulators require information of the environmental fate, behaviour and toxicity of ENPs. ENPs are synthesized with numerous core materials and surface chemistries, this grant will be use to assist regulators by providing knowledge of the specific properties of ENPs that contribute to their toxicity that could be applied used in the initial stages of the risk assessment process. These predictions would be beneficial to both environmental regulators by allowing them to target their limited resources on ENPs possessing the greatest potential hazard and to Canadian industry by encouraging proactive modifications to materials chemistry early in the development cycle.

This proposal outlines a research program that will focus on identifying properties of ENPs important for mobility, persistence and toxicity of ENPs in the aquatic environment. The research brings together a multidisciplinary team of academic researchers at University of Alberta, McGill University and Université de Montréal. Additional support for this proposal comes from contributions and technical expertise from Environment Canada, NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology and Vive Crop Protection, a leading nanotechnology company in Canada.

This research program has played and continues to play a significant part in developing OECD test guidelines for standardization of nanomaterial testing across the globe. We work directly with regulators at Environment Canada, the European Union and US EPA to inform them of hazard and how to conduct, understand and properly interpret nanomaterial testing research.

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