April 5, 2010
Environmental impacts of nanotech form symposium focus
The Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology will hold its fourth annual symposium, “Environmental and Health Impacts of Engineered Nanomaterials,” on Thursday, April 29, at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and researchers from across the university are invited to submit posters. The deadline for poster title registration is April 22.
This year’s symposium brings together faculty experts engaged in various aspects of nanotechnology risk assessment and management research.
Jonathan Links, an INBT-affiliated professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School, assembled the slate of speakers from across four divisions of the university. Links said that this diversity reflects the multidisciplinary approach needed to effectively address questions of how nanomaterials move through and interact with the environment, and how they may impact biological organisms, including humans. Links added that despite some concerted efforts to assess risk, many questions remain unanswered about how engineered nanomaterials and nanoparticles impact human health and the environment.
“Without these data, we are flying blind. But when risk assessment is performed in tandem with research into beneficial applications, it helps researchers make better decisions about how nanotechnology is used in the future,” Links said.
As examples, Links pointed to historical cases where research and development have failed to recognize risks to health and the environment until after a beneficial advancement was already in widespread use. The fibrous substance asbestos, he said, made construction materials flame retardant but is now linked to lung diseases; chlorofluorocarbons made effective air conditioning coolants but are now associated with the depletion of the ozone.
“Studying potential risks to human health and the environment hand in hand with benefit-driven research and development gives us the best chance to reduce risk proactively while maintaining the benefits,” Links said.
Along with Links, professors from the Bloomberg School presenting talks at the symposium include Ellen Silbergeld, of Environmental Health Sciences, and Patrick Breysse, of Environmental Health Engineering and Environmental Health Sciences. William P. Ball, a professor in the Whiting School of Engineering’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering; Justin Hanes, a professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology, with joint appointments in the Whiting School’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences; and Howard Fairbrother, a professor in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry, will talk about the transport of nanomaterials through environmental and biological systems, as well as the unusual properties of manufactured nanomaterials.
Tomas Guilarte, recently appointed chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a former professor at the Bloomberg School, will provide a presentation on neurotoxicity of nanoparticles. Ronald White, an associate scientist and deputy director of the Bloomberg School’s Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute, will discuss policy implications based on risk assessment.
Symposium talks will be from 8:30 a.m. until noon in Sheldon Hall (W1214), and a poster session, with prizes for top presenters, will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Feinstone Hall (E2030).
To register for the symposium or to display a poster, go to http://inbt.jhu.edu/
symposium/registration. Specific symposium questions may be addressed to Mary Spiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.