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Nano-engineered materials (NMs) are a diverse class of extremely small-scale (loosely defined as <100 nm in at least one dimension) materials formed by engineering at the molecular level. NMs are currently being used or developed for various applications in technology, medicine, communication, foodstuffs and food packaging, dietary supplements, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and many other consumer products. The National Science Foundation estimates that worldwide revenues for products and applications built on nanotechnology will be $2.6 trillion by 2014, or about 15% of total manufactured goods.

The small size and design of NMs can confer unique chemical, electrical, magnetic, optical, and thermal properties, which can result in vast improvements for a wide variety of applications. These same properties may also result in unanticipated health and environmental effects. Much can be learned from other small-scale materials that have been well studied, such as ultra-fine particles, welding fumes, and mineral fibers, although some properties will be unique to specific NMs. The feasibility and success of NMs will depend on the ability to safely and reproducibly manufacture uniform (homogeneous) materials with reliable characteristics while avoiding adverse effects on health or the environment during the life cycle of these products. The more that is understood about the factors that control material properties, exposure, and toxicity, the better engineering principles can be applied to reduce potential health and environmental risks.

With more than 40 years of experience in solving complex scientific and engineering problems, Exponent is uniquely qualified to assist in the area of NMs. In addition to our recent project experience in assessing various aspects of NMs in products, Exponent’s scientists have many years of industry experience in nano-scale product manufacturing settings, including manufacturing yield enhancement, process development, materials degradation, process tooling, clean-room science and micro-contamination, defect reduction, root cause, and corrective action analysis. Additionally, our expertise in exposure and risk assessment , materials science, food safety, toxicology of novel substances, and industrial hygiene allows us to comprehensively examine the health, regulatory, and environmental exposures and consequences of product design, manufacturing and production, foreseeable use/misuse, wear, and disposal.

The combination of high-level engineering, technological expertise, and regulatory experience, with strong health sciences, food safety, and environmental practices, provides a complete team to evaluate any issue related to NMs.

Our services include:

  • State-of-the-science reviews for specific NMs
  • Health and environmental assessment of NMs in consumer products
  • Materials science evaluations to determine the potential for exposure
  • Evaluation of reactivity, fire, and explosion hazards of NMs during processing
  • Human and ecological exposure assessment, evaluation of exposure potential, and bioavailability studies
  • Life-cycle assessments, product stewardship, and product safety and liability
  • Failure modes and effects analysis for product design
  • Reliability testing on NM physics of failure
  • Failure analysis and material property characterization
  • Applied research on specific NMs
  • Regulatory assistance in bringing products containing NMs to market under relevant statutes (e.g., TSCA, FIFRA, FD&C Act)
  • Medical device assessments
  • Evaluation of NM issues related to food safety, dietary supplements, and food packaging materials
  • Evaluation of NM issues for OTC drugs and cosmetics
  • Due diligence evaluations for NM applications
  • Reverse engineering
  • Intellectual property protection
  • NM product and process design and manufacturing support, including process metrology and robustness
  • Micro-contamination expertise and product yield enhancement
  • Product recall investigations
  • Evaluation of the regulatory future for food NMs

Exponent is continually involved in NM-related initiatives, including definition, use, and potential exposures and toxicity of NMs. Our scientists have organized and regularly participate in organized technical symposia and legal education seminars. We have been active participants at regulatory agency hearings (e.g., EPA, FDA) and in standards-setting committees such as the Nanotechnology Standards Panel of the American National Standards Institute.

Recent Exponent projects include:

  • Evaluation of the potential for occupational exposure to NMs during production in a small-scale setting and during application in a large, industrial setting
  • State-of-the-science review of the literature related to dermal exposure, inhalation, toxicity, and assessment of potential health risks associated with nano-scale metal oxides, nanoclays, and nano-scale synthetic polymers in consumer products
  • Materials science assessment of binders and matrix components of products to determine the potential for exposure in support of risk assessments
  • Materials science-based characterization of nano-scale morphology and its evolution with product use 
  • Development of nano-layer bonding processes for optical devices
  • Review of potential effects of materials and processing parameters on dispersion and relative availability of nano-sized particles 
  • State-of-the-science review of exposure and toxicology literature on nano-scale titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide in sunscreens
  • Assessment of nanotechnology applications and potential health and environmental risks for home-care and cleaning products
  • Review and synopsis of the health-effect and exposure literature related to use of nanoscale silver in personal care products
  • Evaluation of the refinement of applications for environmental treatment using magnetic nanocomposites
  • Evaluation of several antimicrobial products (nanosilver, nano-scale TiO2) used in water treatment, and consideration of regulatory strategies to ensure compliance with federal and state regulatory requirements


Donthu S. Nanopatterning of functional oxide ceramics. VDM Verlag, Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, 2009.

Mowat FS, Tsuji JS. Carbon nanotubes: The next asbestos? ABA Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee Newsletter Fall 2009, Fall 2009.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS, Donthu S, Reitman M. Application of toxicology studies in assessing the health risks of nanomaterials in consumer products. pp. 543–580. In: Nantoxicity: From In Vitro and In Vivo Models to Health Risks. S.C. Sahu and D.A. Casciano (eds), John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, West Sussex, UK, 2009.

Crane SP, Bihler C, Gajek M, Goennenwein STB, Brandt MS, Ramesh R. Tuning magnetic properties of magnetoelectric BiFeO3-NiFe2O4 nanostructures. J Magn Magn Mater 2008; 321(4):L5-L9.

Donthu S, Alem N, Pan Z, Li S, Shekhawat G, Dravid V, Benkstein K, Semancik S. Directed fabrication of ceramic nanostructures on fragile substrates using soft-electron beam lithography. IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology 2008; 7:338.

Martin L, Crane SP, et al. Multiferroics and magnetoelectrics: thin films and nanostructures. J Physics Cond Matt 2008; 20:434220.

Sun T, Donthu SK, Sprung M, D’Aquila K, Jiang Z, Srivastava A, Wang J, Dravid V. Effect of Pd doping on microstructure and gas sensing performance of nanoporous SnOx thin films. Acta Materialia 2008; 57:1095.

Mowat F, J. Tsuji. Primer on emerging health and environmental issues for nanomaterials. Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Law Quarterly 2006; 23(3):26-30.

Hartzell A, Rotondo J, Foster D. Nanotechnology. ABA Products Liability Newsletter 2006; 17(3).

Tsuji JS, Maynard AD, Howard PC, James JT, Lam C-W, Warheit DB, Santamaria AB. Forum series—Research strategies for safety evaluation of nanomaterials, Part IV: Risk assessment of nanoparticles. Tox Sci 2006; 89(1):42–50.

Mackay CE, Johns M, Salatas JH, Bessinger B, Perri M. Stochastic probability monitoring to predict the environmental stability of nanoparticles in aqueous suspension. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2006; 2(3):293–298.


Mowat F. Nano-size me: Responsible development of nanomaterials. Presented at the Defense Research Institute (DRI) Product Liability Conference—It’s Not Easy Being Green: Navigating the New Landscape of Product Liability Law, San Diego, CA, April 15-–17, 2009.

Mowat F. Size does matter: The impact of nanotechnology on human health and the environment. Presented to the American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, Phoenix, AZ, April 2–4, 2009.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Application of toxicity studies for risk assessment in the real world. Presentation within workshop on Agglomeration Versus Dispersion: How Nanoparticle Behavior Affects Exposure and Toxicity In Vitro, In Vivo, and in the Real World. Workshop organizer and chairperson. Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology. Baltimore, MD, March 15–19, 2009.

Crane SP. Magnetoelectric coupling and magnetic anisotropy in nanostructured oxide thin films. Materials Research Society Fall Meeting, Boston, MA, 2008.

Mowat FS. Carbon nanotubes: What the heck are they? Presented at the California section of the American Chemical Society, Oakland, CA, September 17, 2008.

Reitman MTF. Nanotechnology and plastics for medical devices. Capitalizing on Nanoplastics, Intertek PIRA San Antonio TX, February 2008.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Health risks of carbon nanotubes: What can we learn from mineral fibers or ultrafine particulates? Toxicologist 2007; 96(1):7.

Mowat FS, Tsuji JS. Assessment of health risks of carbon nanotubes: Where do we go from here? Toxicologist 2007; 96(1):8.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS, Kaetzel RS. Approaches for risk assessment and risk management of nanomaterials: “Inert” metal oxides. Toxicologist 2006; 90(1), Abstract 2201.

Mowat, FS. Emerging issues in health risk assessment of nano-engineered materials. Northern California Society for Risk Analysis, Fall Symposium on Risk Assessment in Homeland Security and Emerging Risk Assessment Issues, Berkeley, CA, October 4, 2007.

Tsuji JS. Expert panel participant. Environmental health: Nanomaterials: nifty or naughty? Society for Environmental Journalists Meeting. Stanford, CA, September 7, 2007.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Exposure and toxicity of nanotechnology in products. Presented at SAMPE. Baltimore, MD, June 3–7, 2007.

Mowat FS, Hartzell AL, da Silva MG, Tsuji J. Health risk assessment of products containing nano-engineered materials. Abstract 993. Presented at the 10th Annual National Standards and Technology Institute (NSTI) Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show. Santa Clara, CA, May 20–24, 2007.

Mowat FS, Tsuji JS. Assessment of health risks of carbon nanotubes: Where do we go from here? Presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT). Workshop entitled, "Health risks of carbon nanotubes: What can we learn from mineral fibers or ultrafine particulates?" Charlotte, NC, March 25–29, 2007.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Introduction to carbon nanotubes and health concerns. Presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of SOT. Workshop entitled, "Health risks of carbon nanotubes: What can we learn from mineral fibers or ultrafine particulates?" Charlotte, NC, March 25–29, 2007.

Mowat FS. Health, safety, and risk management of nanomaterials. Presented at the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE), Dallas, TX, November 6–9, 2006.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Assessment of products containing nanomaterials. Symposium entitled, "Regulating nanotechnology: Developing stakeholder consensus for future rulemaking by EPA, FDA and OSHA." Presented at the Division of Chemistry and the Law of the 232nd American Chemical Society National Meeting. San Francisco, CA, September 10–14, 2006.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Risk assessment of nanoscale metal particles. Presented at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Nanotechnology for Site Remediation Workshop. Chicago, IL, September 6–7, 2006.

Mowat FS, Tsuji JS. Nanotechnology and the water market: Applications and health effects. Abstract 747. Presented at 9th Annual National Standards and Technology Institute (NSTI) Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show. Boston, MA, May 7–11, 2006.

Tsuji JS, Kaetzel RS, Mowat FS. Approaches for risk assessment and risk management of nanomaterials: “Inert” metal oxides. Presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology, San Diego, CA, March 5–9, 2006.

Mowat FS. Nanotoxicity: Lessons learned from other small particles and fibers. Presented at the MIT/Stanford/U.C. Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum at Swissnex entitled, Nanotechnology Applications and Implications: A focus on the health and environmental effects of nanomaterials, San Francisco, CA, December 7, 2005.

Mowat FS. Nanomaterials: Emerging health and environmental issues. Presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Defense Research Institute. Chicago, IL, October 19–23, 2005.

Mowat, FS, Yarborough, CM. Nanotoxicity: What can we learn from other small particles and fibers? Presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Nanotechnology and Occupational Health. Proceedings and Final Program, p. 69. Minneapolis, MN, October 3–6, 2005.

Tsuji, JS. Potential health and environmental risks of nanomaterials. Presented to the American Bar Association. Nashville, TN, September 2005.

Tsuji JS, Mowat FS. Potential benefits and hazards of nanotechnology in water. Session on Natural Poisons and Unnatural Products. American Water Works Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 12–16, 2005.

Tsuji J, Mackay C. Nanotechnology: Emerging health and environmental issues. Presented as a continuing legal education (CLE) course in Seattle, WA. October 12, 2004.