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Type: Journal article
Title: Fate and risks of nanomaterials in aquatic and terrestrial environments
Author: Batley, G.
Kirby, J.
McLaughlin, M.
Citation: Accounts of Chemical Research, 2013; 46(3):854-862
Publisher: Amer Chemical Soc
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 0001-4842
Statement of
Graeme E. Batley, Jason K. Kirby and Michael J. McLaughlin
Abstract: Over the last decade, nanoparticles have been used more frequently in industrial applications and in consumer and medical products, and these applications of nanoparticles will likely continue to increase. Concerns about the environmental fate and effects of these materials have stimulated studies to predict environmental concentrations in air, water, and soils and to determine threshold concentrations for their ecotoxicological effects on aquatic or terrestrial biota. Nanoparticles can be added to soils directly in fertilizers orplant protection products or indirectly through application to land or wastewater treatment products such as sludges or biosolids. Nanoparticles may enter aquatic systems directly through industrial discharges or from disposal of wastewater treatment effluents or indirectly through surface runoff from soils. Researchers have used laboratory experiments to begin to understand the effects of nanoparticles on waters and soils, and this Account reviews that research and the translation of those results to natural conditions. In the environment, nanoparticles can undergo a number of potential transformations that depend on the properties both of the nanoparticle and of the receiving medium. These transformations largely involve chemical and physical processes, but they can involve biodegradation of surface coatings used to stabilize many nanomaterial formulations. The toxicity of nanomaterials to algae involves adsorption to cell surfaces and disruption to membrane transport. Higher organisms can directly ingest nanoparticles, and within the food web, both aquatic and terrestrial organisms can accumulate nanoparticles. The dissolution of nanoparticles may release potentially toxic components into the environment. Aggregation with other nanoparticles (homoaggregation) or with natural mineral and organic colloids (heteroaggregation) will dramatically change their fate and potential toxicity in the environment. Soluble natural organic matter may interact with nanoparticles to change surface charge and mobility and affect the interactions of those nanoparticles with biota. Ultimately, aquatic nanomaterials accumulate in bottom sediments, facilitated in natural systems by heteroaggregation. Homoaggregates of nanoparticles sediment more slowly. Nanomaterials from urban, medical, and industrial sources may undergo significant transformations during wastewater treatment processes. For example, sulfidation of silver nanoparticles in wastewater treatment systems converts most of the nanoparticles to silver sulfides (Ag₂S). Aggregation of the nanomaterials with other mineral and organic components of the wastewater often results in most of the nanomaterial being associated with other solids rather than remaining as dispersed nanosized suspensions. Risk assessments for nanomaterial releases to the environment are still in their infancy, and reliable measurements of nanomaterials at environmental concentrations remain challenging. Predicted environmental concentrations based on current usage are low but are expected to increase as use increases. At this early stage, comparisons of estimated exposure data with known toxicity data indicate that the predicted environmental concentrations are orders of magnitude below those known to have environmental effects on biota. As more toxicity data are generated under environmentally-relevant conditions, risk assessments for nanomaterials will improve to produce accurate assessments that assure environmental safety.
Keywords: Soil Pollutants; Water Pollutants, Chemical; Risk Assessment; Risk Factors; Nanostructures; Hydrobiology
Rights: Copyright Published 2012 by the American Chemical Society
RMID: 0020126620
DOI: 10.1021/ar2003368
Appears in Collections:Agriculture, Food and Wine publications
Environment Institute publications

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