Nanotechnology is the art and science of manipulating matter at the nanoscale (down to 1/100,000 the width of a human hair) to create new and unique materials and products. Nanoscale materials are a broadly defined set of substances where at least one critical dimension is less than approximately 100 nanometers. Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are being added to consumer products, medical devices, and industrial applications, putting these materials in direct contact with our bodies and our environment. The unique properties that make ENMs useful in the marketplace also raises concerns about how they may act in the body. Currently little is known about the potential health effects of human exposure to these materials. The NIEHS has developed an integrated, strategic research program that includes grantee support, utilizing our in house research expertise, investing in the development of nano-based applications that benefit the environment and public health, and tapping into the world class toxicity testing capabilities of the National Toxicology Program, to understand the impacts of engineered nanomaterials on human health, and to support the goals of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
Please see the Nanomaterials webpage in Environmental Health Topics to learn more.