FY 2003 Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program
National Center for Environmental Research

Opening Date: July 8, 2003
Closing Date: December 11, 2003

Summary of Program Requirements
Specific Areas of Interest
Special Requirements for This Solicitation
Standard Instructions for Submitting an Application
Sorting Codes

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Past Research Funding Opportunities

General Information

Program Title: Impacts of Manufactured Nanomaterials on Human Health and the Environment

Synopsis of Program:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications that evaluate the potential impacts of manufactured nanomaterials on human health and the environment. As new nanomaterials are manufactured, there is the potential of human and environmental exposure from waste streams or other pathways entering the environment. In view of the lack of information about the health effects of manufactured nanomaterials (nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, and others), this request for applications invites research proposals that focus on potential toxicity of and exposure to manufactured (purposefully made) nanomaterials.

Contact Persons:
Barbara Karn; Phone: 202-564-6824; email: karn.barbara@epa.gov
Nora Savage; Phone: 202-564-8228; email: savage.nora@epa.gov

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.509

Eligibility Information:
Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately twelve
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $4.0 million
Potential Funding per Grant: Approximately $115,000/year with a duration of up to 3 years and no more than a total of $350,000, including direct and indirect costs.
Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Sorting Code:
The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2004-STAR-A1.

Deadline/Target Dates:
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): None
Application Proposal Due Date(s): December 11, 2003


Many industries are involved in nanotechnology related activities. Among these activities is the manufacture of nanoscale materials which are being used in a wide range of products, such as sunscreens, composites, medical devices, and chemical catalysts. According to data collected by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the quantity of manufactured nanoscale materials is expected to grow significantly in the next five years.

Nanotechnology has been defined by the interagency Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) of the federal Office of Science and Technology Policy as follows: “Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1 - 100 nanometer range, to provide a fundamental understanding of phenomena and materials at the nanoscale and to create and use structures, devices and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size. The novel and differentiating properties and functions are developed at a critical length scale of matter typically under 100 nm. Nanotechnology research and development includes manipulation under control of the nanoscale structures and their integration into larger material components, systems and architectures. Within these larger scale assemblies, the control and construction of their structures and components remains at the nanometer scale. In some particular cases, the critical length scale for novel properties and phenomena may be under 1 nm (e.g., manipulation of atoms at ~0.1 nm) or be larger than 100 nm (e.g., nanoparticle reinforced polymers have the unique feature at ~ 200 - 300 nm as a function of the local bridges or bonds between the nano particles and the polymer).” (See http://www.nano.gov exit EPA for more information.)


There is a serious lack of information about the human health and environmental implications of manufactured nanomaterials, e.g., nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, fullerene derivatives, and other nanoscale materials. Table 1 provides an outline of nanostructures, their size, and material into which they may be formed, indicating the type of application in which they may be used. Environmental and other safety concerns about nanotechnology have been raised (Dagani, 2003; Masciangoli and Zhang, 2003; Service, 2003). As part of EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment, this solicitation requests research proposals which address potential health and environmental concerns of nanomaterials.

Potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology might arise as a result of the nature of the nanoparticles themselves, the characteristics of the products made from them, or aspects of the manufacturing process involved. The large surface area, crystalline structure, and reactivity of some nanoparticles may facilitate transport in the environment or lead to harm because of their interactions with cellular material. In the case of nanomaterials, size matters, and could facilitate and exacerbate any harmful effects caused by the composition of the material.

Some research has been done on inhalation exposure to nanoparticles. A related research area that EPA research is addressing deals with the health effects of ultrafine (less than 100 nm) particles on lungs (See: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/). However, the current research on ultrafine particles may not be applicable to manufactured nanoparticles because the ultrafine materials studied are neither a consistent size nor pure in chemical or structural composition. Exposure may occur via the dermal and ingestion, as well as inhalation routes. It is unknown whether nanomaterials bioaccumulate and, thereby, pose human health and environmental risks because of this potential property.

Little is known about the fate, transport, and transformation of nanosized materials after they enter the environment. As the production of manufactured nanomaterials increases and as products containing manufactured nanomaterials are disposed of, these materials could have harmful effects as they move through the environment.


EPA is particularly interested in supporting research related to manufactured nanomaterials in the following areas: 1) toxicology of manufactured nanomaterials; 2) fate, transport, and transformation of manufactured nanomaterials; and 3) human exposure and bioavailability.

1. Toxicology of manufactured nanomaterials

Manufactured nanomaterials or nanocomposites may be toxic because of their composition or their unique size. Relevant research questions might include, but are not limited to: What is the toxicity or potential toxicity of manufactured nanomaterials? Can similar nanomaterials be grouped with respect to their bioactivity? What are the dose-response characteristics of nanomaterials? What are appropriate testing procedures to evaluate the potential toxicological effects of nanomaterials? What extrapolation models are needed to evaluate or predict toxicity? What is the mode of action and mechanism of toxicity? What effects may occur in exposed human populations? Are some subpopulations more sensitive to nanomaterials?

2. Environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation of manufactured nanomaterials

Information about fate, transport, and transformation is necessary to estimate exposure. Relevant research questions might include, but are not limited to: By what means do (can) manufactured nanomaterials enter the environment? What are the modes of dispersion for nanomaterials in the environment? Do manufactured nanoparticles undergo transformation in the environment?

3. Exposure and bioavailability of manufactured nanomaterials

There may be risks to human health associated with manufactured nanomaterials. However, if there is no exposure, there are no health risks. With respect to exposure, relevant research questions might include, but are not limited to: How and to what degree are humans exposed to nanomaterials in the environment? What effects may occur in exposed human populations? Are some subpopulations more vulnerable to nanomaterial exposure? What are the exposure pathways for humans?


Because the manufacturing of nanomaterials is not widespread, researchers must indicate in their proposals which nanomaterials they will use and where they will obtain them, including any needed collaboration with a materials manufacturing corporation or research lab that is synthesizing a commercially viable material. Thus, in the proposal, information on the source, potential use, composition, and present or future availability of the material being studied must be included.


Table 1. Examples of nanostructured materials

Nanostructure Size Example Material or Application
Clusters, nanocrystals, quantum dots radius: 1-10 nm insulators, semiconductors, metals, magnetic materials
Other nanoparticles radius: 1-100 nm ceramic oxides
Nanowires diameter: 1-100 nm metals, semiconductors, oxides, sulfides, nitrides
Nanotubes diameter: 1-100 nm Carbon, including fullerenes, layered chalcogenides
Adapted from J.Jortner and C.N.R.Rao, Pure Appl Chem 74(9), 1491-1506, 2002.

Dagani, R. Nanomaterials: 2003. Safe or Unsafe? Chemical and Engineering News 81(17):30-33.

Jortner, J and CNR Rao. 2002. Nanostructured Advanced Materials. Perspectives and Directions. Pure Appl Chem 74(9), 1491-1506.

Masciangioli, TM and W-X Zhang. 2003. Environmental Technologies at The Nanoscale: Potential & Pitfalls. Environ Sci Tech 37 (5):102A – 108A.

Service, RF. 2003. Nanomaterials Show Signs of Toxicity. Science 300(5617):24.US Congress. 2003. House of Representatives. Committee on Science Hearing: The Societal Implications of Nanotechnology. April 9, 2003, 2318 Rayburn House Office Building. ( http://www.house.gov/science/hearings/full03/index.htmexit EPA)


It is anticipated that a total of approximately $4.0 million will be awarded, depending on the availability of funds. EPA anticipates funding approximately 12 grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is $100,000 to $120,000 per year total costs, with a duration of up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $350,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.


Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.

National laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution, organization, or governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant. EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

The principal investigator’s institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Thomas Barnwell in NCER, phone (202) 564-0824, email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov


The Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application including the necessary forms will be found on the NCER web site, https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/funding-opportunities-how-apply-and-required-forms


The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2004-STAR-A1.

The deadline for receipt of the applications by NCER is no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, December 11, 2003.


Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below.

Barbara Karn (202) 564-6824

Nora Savage (202) 564-8228