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In this extended interview, Sammies finalist William Boyes, environmental health scientist at EPA’s Office of Research and Development, discusses how his work helps to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and make materials safer.

Americans are exposed to dozens of chemicals on the job or at home every day. But thanks to the work of scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, standards are in place to make sure they don’t cause undue damage. William Boyes, environmental health scientist at EPA’s Office of Research and Development, is up for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for his work in this field. He says that EPA is looking at the materials of the future, to make sure that they can be constructed safely.


“The idea is to try and identify the features of the nanomaterials that would likely make them hazardous. Are there certain compositions, sizes, radioactivity that are red flags? What would lead someone to be exposed to them, and if they are exposed to have some sort of an adverse reaction?” Boyes said. “Once the research can identify those principles, they can be engineered by the manufacturers and designers so that the hazardous aspects of those materials are omitted, but they can serve the same function… We’re trying to get ourselves into a position where we can forecast problems before they happen.”

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