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July 23rd, 2009
Overall, the rapidly growing nanotechnology sector promises steady job growth and seemingly endless commercial applications. The National Science Foundation has estimated the need for workers in the nanotech sector will rise from the current 20,000 to around two million in the next decade. It is expected to swell from a $200 billion industry to a $3 trillion industry in just the next five years.
Yet, with this burgeoning technology also comes a growing concern -particularly from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration—about the little-known effects that waste being produced on the nano level might have on the chemical makeup of our environment.
The University of South Carolina's Nanocenter, however, is spearheading research on the problem and recently received additional funding through a $3 million endowment from the state's Centers of Economic Excellence program. The university's newly minted Center for Nanoenvironmental Research and Risk Assessment will study the effect of nanomaterials on humans and the environment in a more preemptive and preventative capacity, rather than after environmental problems arise.
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