"The Environmental Protection Agency detailed its plans on Tuesday for research into the possible health and environmental risks of nanomaterials, tiny substances that are finding growing use in products like sunscreens and industrial adhesives.
The document, issued in draft form in June, calls for work to identify sources of nanomaterials, which can measure as little as perhaps one-10,000th the width of a human hair. Research will also center on how they move in the environment, the problems they might cause for people, animals and plants, and how these problems could be avoided or mitigated.
The federal National Nanotechnology Initiative is charged with coordinating research by various agencies on the issue. But in a highly critical report last year, the National Academy of Sciences dismissed its effort as inadequate.
Little is known about whether substances engineered at the nano scale persist and accumulate in the environment in unusual and potentially harmful ways."