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Keywords:

  • engineered nanomaterials;
  • nanotoxicology;
  • high-throughput screening;
  • predictive toxicology;
  • structure–activity relationships

Abstract

UC CEIN was established with funding from the US National Science Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 with the mission to study the impact of nanotechnology on the environment, including the identification of hazard and exposure scenarios that take into consideration the unique physicochemical properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). Since its inception, the Center has made great progress in assembling a multidisciplinary team to develop the scientific underpinnings, research, knowledge acquisition, education and outreach that is required for assessing the safe implementation of nanotechnology in the environment. In this essay, the development of the infrastructure, protocols, and decision-making tools that are required to effectively integrate complementary scientific disciplines allowing knowledge gathering in a complex study area that goes beyond the traditional safety and risk assessment protocols of the 20th century is outlined. UC CEIN's streamlined approach, premised on predictive hazard and exposure assessment methods, high-throughput discovery platforms and environmental decision-making tools that consider a wide range of nano/bio interfaces in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, demonstrates the implementation of a 21st-century approach to the safe implementation of nanotechnology in the environment.