Superfund Research Program
Nanomaterial Design for Environmental Health and Safety
Project Leader: Robert H. Hurt
Grant Number: P42ES013660
Funding Period: 2009-2021
The Nanomaterial Design for Environmental Health and Safety Project uses the modern toolkit of nanoscale materials to develop new technologies that reduce adverse human health effects of pollutants. During this period the team continued to use emerging sheet-like or “2D” nanomaterials to create barrier layers for advanced personal protective equipment to prevent human exposure to toxic chemicals. The team completed a study of the mechanical shear stability of graphene-based films incorporated into active layers in fabric laminates [Castilho 2020], which is an important issue in their practical application in breathable protective clothing. Researchers also developed a method to use graphene materials as the basis for a new type of water filtration membrane [Liu 2021]. The team used new film wrinkling techniques to create thin membranes containing graphene nanochannels aligned vertically and running directly across the membrane from top to bottom. This new material design promises effective removal of contaminants in drinking water through size exclusion, while the straight vertical channels improve the throughput of the purified water product. The team also collaborated with researchers in the Adverse Human Health Impacts of Nanomaterials Project to better understand the potential human health implications of exposure to 2D nanomaterials. The team completed a case study on the important sheet-like material manganese dioxide (MnO2), and published a series of two sequential articles [Gray 2020; Browning 2021] examining its biodegradation behavior and the biological responses and toxicity pathways when cells in vitro are exposed to MnO2 nanosheets.