£3m boost for Birmingham University nanoparticle research

Scientists at Birmingham University have secured £3m in funding to study the effects of nanoparticles on the environment.

The research project will focus on silver nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes that are used in a range of consumer products such as clothing, cosmetics and tennis racquets.

The researchers will investigate how the nanoparticles and nanotubes are transported into sewerage treatment systems, into soil, surface waters and sediments, as well as their toxicity and absorption into a range of organisms such as bacteria, algae, invertebrates and fish.

Prof Jamie Lead, lead project investigator from Birmingham University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: ’Nanoparticles are materials that may pose novel hazards to the environment. To exploit the benefits of this technology in a sustainable manner, we need to know the potential hazards and risks in far more depth. At the end of this project we will have a vastly improved understanding of the fundamental science involved, but will also be able to feed this information to regulators to make an immediate positive impact on environmental and ecological health.’

The money for the project has been awarded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, the EPSRC, DEFRA, the Environment Agency and USEPA.

It involves researchers from Birmingham’s School of Biosciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy, as well as Rice University, Clemson University and UC Davis, Exeter University, Napier University and the Natural History Museum.