The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a multi-million-dollar grant to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for a study into the impact of chemicals throughout their entire life cycle, including their manufacture, use and disposal.

It is important that regulators and the industry have an in-depth understanding of the nature of the chemicals used in manufacturing and their impact on the environment and public health. That is why the EPA is providing a $4.9 million grant to scientists at the Santa Barbara university, hoping that its research will enable the U.S. chemical industry to design and produce safer chemicals, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, Jared Blumenfeld, explained in a statement.

The funding will be used to develop an online tool, the Chemical Life-Cycle Builder, which will be used to assess the impact of chemicals and minerals in the early stages of their development before the definitive manufacturing processes have been determined. A team of international academics and industry representatives will also participate in the development of the tool, the EPA said.

A further $5 million has been granted to Arizona State University, which will work on developing various applications of nanomaterials to improve the quality of consumer products, while at the same time reducing the risks to human health and the environment. Last year, a total of $16 million in funding was awarded to Yale University, University of Kansas, University of Arizona and Colorado State University for studies into sustainable design and development of chemical alternatives.