National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

Nanosafe: Safety in Nano- Science and Technology Research Labs

under re-construction

The NNIN presents: A workshop on Environmental Health and Safety of Nanotechnology

Nanosafe:  Safety in Nano- Science and Technology Research Labs

December 2, 2004
Georgia Institute of Technology

Contact Information: Dr. Mary Tang (, phone: 650-723-9980) or Dr. Mandy Esch (, phone: 607-254-4913)


From popular novels to headline news, potential and real issues of safety in nanotechnology are hotly debated.  Those engaged in nano- science and technology should be aware of these issues as their work may pose safety concerns, not only for their researchers in the lab, but also from the more general perspective of public perception. This workshop will focus on the practical, implementation aspects of safety in nanoscale research:  both within the lab as well as in the broader context of environmental, societal and ethical implications.

The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) is a partnership of 13 research laboratories supported by the National Science Foundation in order to provide resources for nanoscale science, engineering, and technology to researchers across a broad range of disciplines, and across the nation, in industry and government as well as academia.  As research delves into the nanoscale, the boundaries between disciplines becomes increasingly blurred.  Researchers engaging in nanotechnology hail from a broad range of disciplines, many of which are not typically seen together in a single laboratory – and which may have standard practices that are incompatible, from both safety and contamination perspectives. Although largely in the tradition semiconductor fabrication, over the years, the Network sites have developed a variety of systems to establish a common basis by which researchers from different disciplines can work together safely and without adversely affecting each others’ research.  With the recent Network expansion, the number of sites and disciplines involved has increased dramatically, thus presenting new challenges of how to manage multi-user, multidisciplinary facilities in a safe and productive manner.  The NNIN is committed to promoting responsibility in nano- science and technology research.

In this workshop, we will explore and discuss problems of managing safety in an interdisciplinary research environment as well from the broader perspectives of environment, society and ethics.  This is an opportunity not only to learn how each of the NNIN sites deals with these issues but also to engage in discussion with experts addressing these specific topics: 

  • The legal requirements for a safe laboratory environment
  • How to educate people from a broad range of disciplines to make informed decisions about hazards presented in nanoscience & technology research
  • Potential problems with contamination that a multidisciplinary facility faces
  • How to screen new materials and practices
  • How to manage a broad range of chemical waste streams
  • Recent studies in potential hazards presented by nanotechnology and what they mean (Andrew Maynard from the CDC
  • The most commonly used chemicals in nanoscience research:  the risks and “green” alternatives
  • Societal implications of nanotechnology and safety:  risk assessment and lessons from the past
  • Education and public perception of nanotechnology





8:00 Registration, coffee
9:00 Welcome - James D. Meindl, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director of the Microelectronics Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology
9:10 Introduction - Sandip Tiwari. Professor of Electrical Engineering, Cornell University, Director of the NNIN
9:20 "Nanotechnology/nanoscience: Safety and risk overview." Lawrence Gibbs, Assistant Vice Provost, Director of Environmental Health & Safety, Stanford University
10:00 "Environmental challenges and opportunities for nano-manufacturing of electronic devices."Farhang Shadman, Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, Director of the NSF/ERC for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing
10:40 Break
11:00 "Environmental law and nanotechnology." David Hoffman, Attorney, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP
11:40 Lunch (Optional: Tours of the MiRC)
1:00 "Nanotechnology in society." Robert McGinn, Professor of Management Science & Engineering, Director of the Science, Technology, & Society Program, Stanford University
1:40 "Pulmonary Toxicity of Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes: What We Know and What We Do Not Know." Anna A. Shvedova, Ph.D., D.Sc., FATS Senior Staff Scientist, NIOSH/CDC Adjunct Associate Professor Physiology and Pharmacology School of Medicine West Virginia University
2:20 Break
2:40 "Working with engineered nanomaterials: Towards developing responsible work practices in an uncertain world"  (LARGE FILE ) Andrew Maynard, Senior Service Fellow, National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH)
3:20 Panel discussion with invited speakers (moderated by Mike Svkarla)
4:00 Adjourn