Director: Peter S. Thorne, PhD
Co-Director: Aliasger Salem, PhD
The Nanotoxicology Theme identifies the physico-chemical characteristics of nanoscale materials used in agriculture, pharmaceutics, consumer products, rural manufacturing (e.g., wind turbines, biofuels) and the food industry and characterizes exposures and adverse outcome pathways. Nanotechnology is rapidly stepping into agriculture and food sciences. Nanomaterials are already being used in food packaging and sprays for preservation and in environmental applications for identification and removal of toxic pollutants. “Smart sensors” based on nanomaterials are being developed for detection of toxicants and pathogens. For example, Ag, Fe, ZnO, and Fe3O4 nanoparticles, can be used to detect heavy metal ions and volatile organic compounds in water and soil. Nanocapules made of liposomes or polymers can be used to target parasitic weeds by releasing significantly lower doses of herbicides in a controlled manner. Nano-sized carriers of agrochemicals are being designed to travel through the plant and release their load after a target condition has been met. Potential toxicity of nanomaterials needs to be determined before their extensive use in agricultural processes and products. Furthermore, clear exposure and risk assessments are needed in agriculture and food industries.
Maureen Donovan, PhD
Jennifer Fiegel, PhD
Pharmaceutics, Biochemical Engineering
Gabriele Ludewig, PhD
Occupational and Environmental Health