Risk Assessment and Life Cycle Analysis of Nanoscale Metal Oxides Used in Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication

EPA Grant Number: FP917307
Title: Risk Assessment and Life Cycle Analysis of Nanoscale Metal Oxides Used in Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication
Investigators: Shepard, Michele N
Institution: The State University of New York
EPA Project Officer: Just, Theodore J.
Project Period: August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Nanotechnology


To maximize the benefits of nanotechnology and avoid unwanted consequences, additional data are needed to better understand potential environmental health risks and necessary control measures across the life cycle stages for specific nanotechnology applications. The goal of this project is to provide data on the material characteristics, potential pathways of exposure and release, and risk management practices for engineered nanomaterials associated with the chemical-mechanical planarization process in semiconductor wafer fabrication. Additional application of the combined risk assessment and life cycle analysis framework also will help further refine the assessment approach for nanomaterials.


To investigate the environmental and occupational health risks of engineered nanomaterials used in the chemical-mechanical planarization process for semiconductor wafer fabrication, this project will use risk assessment and life cycle analysis methods. Initial study phases include constructing a profile of the life cycle stages, reviewing relevant toxicological data, assessing workplace handling practices and control measures and determining potential pathways of exposure or release. Sampling and analysis will be conducted to identify and characterize any engineered nanomaterials in air and process waste streams. The approach also will include a review of current and best practice recommendations to prevent or minimize exposures and releases, including design considerations, engineering controls, workforce training, administrative procedures, personal protective equipment and waste management practices.

Expected Results:

This project will result in a case study on the environmental health risks and recommendations for nanoscale metal oxides used in chemicalmechanical planarization for semiconductor wafer fabrication. The results will include an evaluation of material characteristics and exposure pathways across the life cycle stages, recommendations for risk management practices to prevent or minimize exposures and releases, and an assessment of the applicability of the current environmental regulatory framework for these specific materials. The results also will help clarify unknowns and uncertainties and prioritize further research needs related to the nanoscale metal oxides of interest, as well as to provide lessons learned and other refinements in applying combined risk assessment and life cycle analysis methods for engineered nanomaterials.

Potential to Further Environ mental / Human Health Protection

The project results will include recommendations to control worker exposures to these engineered nanomaterials and help prevent potential human health impacts, as well as to evaluate pathways for environmental release and potential downstream public health impact.

Supplemental Keywords:

engineered nanomaterials, nanotechnology, nanoparticle exposure, environmental health, risk assessment, life cycle analysis, semiconductor wafer fabrication, chemical-mechanical planarization