Nanoprospecting: An Approach Towards Environmental Monitoring of Engineered Nanomaterials

Project: Research project

Project Details


Engineered nanomaterials (NMs) are a new class of pollutants, and debate is growing regarding their potential hazard in the environment. Hazard depends upon both toxicity and exposure dose. The sources, fate and transport, and toxicity of ENMs have been a major focus of environmental health and safety research efforts across the globe over the past decade [2]. Extensive research is now available on NM dissolution, aggregation, influence of natural organic matter (NOM) and other water quality parameters (REF). Many ecotoxicity studies are now available, but frequently rely upon acute toxicity assays at unrealistically high NM concentrations [3-10]. Consequently the need to obtain real-world exposure levels to guide selection of relevant dosemtrics for chronic rather than just acute exposures. Information is also becoming available on release rates of NMs from a broad range of consumer and other products. A range of modeling strategies are also available to represent the environmental fate and transport of NMs [11], because it has been thought that analytical capabilities to quantifiably track NMs in the environment remain in their infancy. A critical research need identified by leading researchers in the field of environmental nanotechnology is to validate multiphase fate and transport models and develop robust analytical techniques to track NMs in the environment [12]. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is arguably, today, the NM with most widespread use and potential for occurring in water systems and is among the few NMs predicted to occur near or above the predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC) [2, 13-19]. Field monitoring of TiO2 observe levels (10 to 30 gTi/L) on the same order of magnitude as predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) [20, 21]. Thus, perhaps we are ready for field-scale monitoring of NMs. An initial focus needs to be on high production volume (HPV) nanomaterials because if we cant detect and monitor these NMs, then the analytical capability and probability of occurrence based upon usage rates of finding NMs on the cusp of widespread use (e.g., CNTs, nano-Ag) perhaps remains un-attainable. Thus, we propose a first step towards conducting and designing fieldscale monitoring of NMs in aquatic systems, which is one of the most likely environmental compartments for ecosystem exposure to NMs.
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/17


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $306,000.00

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