Superfund Research Program
Nanomaterial Design for Environmental Health and Safety
Project Leader: Robert H. Hurt
Grant Number: P42ES013660
Funding Period: 2009-2020
The Nanomaterial Design for Environmental Health and Safety Project, uses the modern toolkit of ultrasmall materials to develop technologies to reduce adverse human health effects of pollutants. During this period, the researchers continued to use new sheet-like or "2D" materials to create barrier layers for clothing or devices that protect indoor spaces or humans from toxicants. The researchers published a scientific article describing their recent work on the development of films that are both protective and "breathable", allowing the wearer to perspire and regulate body temperature. The barriers were tested and show promise against the important toxicant trichloroethyelene, and were found to have ultrahigh water breathability relative to competing technologies. The researchers also developed a method to make these films stretchable for improved robustness and wearability in fabrics and personal protective equipment.
The researchers also worked to understand the health implications of 2D materials, and learn the rules of safe material design. The researchers studied the biodegradation of 2D sheet-like materials after inhalation into the human lung, which is a key material property determining its hazard or safety. The researchers found that both molybdenum disulfide nanosheets and molybdenum trioxide nanoribbons undergo degradation and dissolution under lung-relevant conditions and produce soluble products of low hazard. This finding helps inform the safe design, selection, manufacture, and incorporation of new sheet-like materials into devices and consumer products.