The Basics


What are engineered nanomaterials?

  • Engineered nanomaterials are extremely small-scale, man-made chemicals and materials between 1 and 100 nanometers in size with a variety of commercial, military, medical, and other technological applications.

Why are engineered nanomaterials on the DoD Emerging Contaminants Watch List?

  • Preliminary studies suggest that the novel properties of some engineered nanomaterials may also pose risks to human health and the environment.
  • Little is known about their toxicological and environmental effects because nanomaterials may behave very differently than conventional materials, even when composed of the same chemicals.
  • Federal regulators are considering the most appropriate approaches to regulation of engineered nanomaterials.

Why is DoD interested in nanomaterials?

  • Nanomaterials offer great promise to deliver many benefits in military as well as human health, environmental, commercial and industrial applications.
  • DoD has made and continues to make significant investments in research and development of new applications for engineered nanomaterials.

What is DoD doing to assess and manage risks posed by engineered nanomaterials?

  • DoD coordinates its work with and participates in the National Nanotechnology Initiative and other national and international standards setting bodies.
  • All DoD work on nanomaterials is required to comply with applicable environmental, safety, and health laws, regulations, and standards.
  • DoD has supported $1 million in annual research in the last three years to assess the environmental, health, and safety impacts of nanomaterials.
  • DoD established an Inter-Service/OSD working group to coordinate all related environmental, safety, and occupational health (ESOH) issues whether they are relevant to technical, policy, or legal topics.
  • In May of 2008, DoD issued a policy requiring science and acquisition program managers to identify and address data gaps on environmental, safety, and health concerns of engineered nanomaterials within their areas of responsibility.

Where can I get more information?

  • For information on the federal government’s National Nanotechnology Initiative:
Last Modified: 01 October 2015 at 07:00