Nanotechnology has significant economic, health, and environmental benefits, including renewable energy and innovative environmental solutions. Manufactured nanoparticles have been incorporated into new materials and products because of their novel or enhanced properties. These very same properties also have prompted concerns about the potential environmental and human health hazard and risk posed by the manufactured nanomaterials. Appropriate risk management responses require the development of models capable of predicting the environmental and human health effects of the nanomaterials. Development of predictive models has been hampered by a lack of information concerning the environmental fate, behavior and effects of manufactured nanoparticles. The United Kingdom (UK) Environmental Nanoscience Initiative and the United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency have developed an international research program to enhance the knowledgebase and develop risk-predicting models for manufactured nanoparticles. Here we report selected highlights of the program as it sought to maximize the complementary strengths of the transatlantic scientific communities by funding three integrated US-UK consortia to investigate the transformation of these nanoparticles in terrestrial, aquatic, and atmospheric environment. Research results demonstrate there is a functional relationship between the physicochemical properties of environmentally transformed nanomaterials and their effects and that this relationship is amenable to modeling. In addition, the joint transatlantic program has allowed the leveraging of additional funding, promoting transboundary scientific collaboration.

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Published in Journal of Environmental Protection, v. 9, no. 4, p. 385-404.

© 2018 by author(s) and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY 4.0).

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The authors thank Dr. Meredith Fry for her comments and suggestions and grants from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NE/H013679/1) and the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBS/E/C/00005094).