Impact of Nanomaterials on the Biosphere: Balancing Societal Benefit and Assessed Risk to Human Biology and Ecosystems

An ECI Conference

Sept 3-7,2017
Maryborough Hotel
Cork, Ireland

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About This Conference


In the last three decades, there has been a surge in the application of nanotechnologies  to a wide range of human endeavor.  Increasing commercialization of solid-state particulate material of nano-scale dimension (nanoparticles) in a growing inventory of biomedical, electronic device-manufacturing, agricultural and common consumer products has brought many advantages to every-day life. However, their unique properties—such as nanosize and high surface reactivity,— seized upon or carefully engineered to render their use so advantageous for many applications may also  increase their toxicity to the environment and confer toxicity to humans (through inhalation, ingestion or dermal routes) in the course of their synthesis, use and disposal. Thus, there is a concomitant need to understand and quantify the occupational health, public safety and environmental implications of these now ubiquitous material forms.

Nanoparticulates are not only sourced from a variety of familiar naturally-occurring forms (e.g. carbon black, graphite, talc, clays, diatoms and geological silicas, TiO2 and ZnO powders) but increasingly engineered from targeted materials systems using novel processing routes whose nanoscale products (e.g. carbon-based materials, including  nanotubes, fullerenes and grapheme as well as rare-earth oxide particulates, nano-silver, nano-gold, metal oxides,  and a variety of nanoscale ceramic and polymeric drug-delivery particles) have not been systematically—or in many cases, never—evaluated for toxic responses.  At issue is toxicity to human health and to a wide range of natural and agricultural environments.   Due to the enormous number of permutations of nanoparticle shape, dimensions, composition, and surface chemistry, only a fundamental understanding of the critical biological interactions with such particulates can permit a realistic, practical assessment of the risks associated with the wide range of possible product types.

This conference aims to bring together professionals across many disciplines, including medicine, environment, engineering and industry, who are concerned with not only the beneficial uses of nanomaterials, but also the potential health and ecological consequences of the increasing prevalence of nanoparticulate material in the environment.  Currently, the uncertainty surrounding engineered nanoparticle safety is a major concern to government, health and environmental agencies, yet there is little or no specific legislation regarding their safe development, levels of exposure and use, possibly reflecting a reluctance to establish barriers to commercial development of products that could potentially provide life-changing advances. There is to date no consensus regarding environmental toxicity engendered by use of nanomaterials.  The purpose of this timely conference is to assimilate and review the current status in our understanding of the fundamental properties of current and new generation nanomaterials and how these might relate to their bioreactivity, translocation and ultimate fate, weighed against the advantages such materials offer. The ability to better anticipate hazard and risk will prevent unwanted outcomes whilst enjoying the societal benefits of a dawning nanotechnology era.

Provisional Session Titles:

  • Nanomaterials —Taxonomy, Contexts and Unique Advantages
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Analytical Methods for Nanoparticle Assessment
  • Environmental Transformations and Fates
  • Respiratory effects — Bioreactivity and Physiological Impact
  • Neurotoxicity and Brain Impacts
  • Risk Assessment

Additionally, two poster sessions will be scheduled.

Graduate students will be encouraged to attend, and limited external support for graduate student participants is being solicited.

Conference Organization


Dr. Alexandra  E. Porter, Dept. of Materials and London Centre for Nanotechnology, Imperial College London

Dr. Teresa (Terry) D. Tetley, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London

Dr. Bevin P. Engelward, Professor of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Organizing Committee (in addition to chairs):

Dr. John M. Essigmann, Professor of Toxicology & Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Linn W. Hobbs (ECI Liaison, ex officio), John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Andrew J. Thorley, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London

Dr. Eugenia (Éva) Valsami-Jones, School of Geography, University of Birmingham, England

Conference Venue

The conference will be held at the Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Cork, Ireland. Just a 10-minute taxi ride from both Cork City Center and the Cork International Airport, the hotel is surrounded by lush gardens and provides a serene setting for conferences. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, pool, full-service spa and fitness center.  Bedrooms feature flat screen televisions, tea and coffee facilities, and safes, as well as irons and ironing boards. The hotel has 93 rooms, many with verandas and balconies overlooking the gardens. The conference sessions will be held in the Sherrad Ballroom, which will provide ample space for both technical and poster sessions. Complimentary high-speed wifi is available throughout the property, including the meeting rooms. The Douglas Golf Club is just a six-minute walk from the hotel and the town of Douglas, with many shops, pubs and restaurants, is a 5-10 minute walk away.

Address:  Maryborough Hotel, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland  T12 XR12
Telephone:  +353 21 436 5555   FAX:  +353 21 436 5662

Cork, Ireland- Known as the food capital of Ireland, Cork is rich in history and features a number of art galleries, theaters and museums. In 2005, Cork was designated the European Capital of Culture and it was recognized as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2010. Located in the Southeast of Ireland, Cork City serves as the shopping and commercial capital of the south.

The city dates back to the sixth century, when St. Finbar founded a monastic settlement there. Around 915, Viking settlers established a trading community. By the 12th century the settlement had become the chief city of the Kingdom of South Munster, having survived raids and sporadic settlement by Norsemen. Irish rule was short-lived, and by 1185 Cork was under English rule. Thereafter it changed hands regularly during the relentless struggle between Irish and Crown forces. The complete history of Cork can be found here.

The city centre is built on an island in the River Lee, just upstream of Cork Harbour. The two channels of the River Lee which embrace the city centre are spanned by many bridges, and this gives the city a distinctive continental air.

The city is easily walkable, and popular attractions include ringing the Shandon Bells in the 300-year-old tower of St. Anne’s Church, and visiting the French Gothic spires of St. Finbarre’s Cathedral. There are many unique shopping and dining options, including the famous English Market, with its stalls selling foods from all over the world.

At every corner you’ll come across another panoramic view, another interesting architectural feature and some of the best art galleries ,theatres and museums in Ireland.

The city is home to University College Cork, established in 1845 as one of three Queen’s Colleges – at Cork, Galway and Belfast. These new colleges were established in the reign of Queen Victoria, and named after her.

The famous Blarney Castle, home to the Blarney Stone, is just twenty minutes drive from the city center.  West Cork, nicknamed “A Place Apart, offers a break from the speed of the city.  Nature sets the pace in this beautiful south west corner of Ireland – stretching from Kinsale  on the south coast to three rugged westerly peninsulas reaching into the wild Atlantic: Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and Beara.

More information can be found on the Cork City Tourism web site and the Discover Ireland Cork Guide.


Directions to Maryborough Hotel from Cork Airport:

The hotel is located approximately 10 minutes away from Cork airport by car or taxi.

  • Travel down Airport Hill
  • At Airport Road roundabout, take first exit onto Farmers Cross N27
  • Follow N27 to Kinsale roundabout
  • Take 4th exit onto South Ring road  – N25 East
  • Once on N25, take 2nd exit for Douglas, ignoring 1st exit marked for Douglas West
  • At the traffic lights, turn right
  • At the roundabout, take 2nd exit traveling straight ahead
  • At the traffic lights, drive straight on, until you reach a second roundabout
  • Take 3rd exit off roundabout (Douglas Golf Club on directional fingerpost)
  • This is Maryborough Hill; the hotel is situated up the hill on the left hand side

Directions from other Airports

From Shannon Airport, Ireland to The Maryborough Hotel & Spa
Time: 1 hour 45 mins Distance: 128 km
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From Kerry Airport to The Maryborough Hotel & Spa
Time: 1 hour 26 mins Distance: 104 km
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From Dublin Airport to The Maryborough Hotel & Spa
Time: 2 hours 26 mins Distance: 263 km
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Train Service

Train service is widely available between cities in Ireland. For complete details, schedules and fares, visit Irish Rail. Direct trains run from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork (Kent). The trip from Dublin to Cork takes about 2 ½ hours. Dublin Heuston Station can be reached from Dublin Airport via a bus connection outside the terminal or by taxi (15-25 minutes depending on traffic).

Bus Service

Bus service is also widely available. Buses run directly from Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport to Cork City. The journey takes about three hours. Bus service is recommended for transfers between Shannon and Cork City as there are no directly trains. The trip takes about 2 ½ hours. For fares and schedules visit

General Information about ECI

Engineering Conferences International (ECI) is a global engineering conferences program, originally established in 1962, that provides opportunities for the exploration of problems and issues of concern to engineers and scientists from many disciplines.

The format of the weeklong research conference provides morning and late afternoon or evening sessions in which major presentations are made. Available time is included during the afternoons for ad hoc meetings, informal discussions, and/or recreation. This format is designed to enhance rapport among participants and promote dialogue on the development of the meeting. We believe that the conferences have been instrumental in generating ideas and disseminating information to a greater extent than is possible through more conventional forums.

All participants are expected both to attend the entire conference and to contribute actively to the discussions. The recording/photographing of lectures and presentations is forbidden. As ECI conferences take place in an informal atmosphere, casual clothing is the usual attire.

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