Nanomaterials in our environment

Dec 15, 2010

The manufacturing of nanomaterials has been steadily on the rise in the medical, industrial, and scientific fields. Nanomaterials are materials that are engineered to have dimensions less than 100 nanometers and have very unique properties as a result of their small size.

In a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a team of scientists from the University of Kentucky determined that earthworms could absorb copper nanoparticles present in soil.

One crucial step in determining the uptake of was discerning whether uptake of was released from the nanomaterials or the nanomaterials themselves. Using x-ray analysis, researchers were able to differentiate between copper ions and copper nanoparticles by examining the oxidation state of copper in the earthworm tissues.

Many products will release their nanomaterials either as a result of regular use or after disposal. These discarded could enter waterways and eventually soil. According to the authors, it is unclear how nanomaterials interact in the environment due to lack of scientific research; however, there is a possibility of unintentional ingestion by humans and animals.

Jason Unrine, the lead author of the study said, "This was one of the first studies to demonstrate that engineered nanomaterials can be taken up from the soil by soil organisms and enter food chains, and it has significant implications in terms of potential exposure to nanomaterials for both humans and ecological receptor species."

Unrine assures that ongoing studies are being conducted on transformation, bioavailability, trophic transfer, and adverse effects of engineered nanomaterials in terrestrial ecosystems.

Nanomaterials are used in a variety of instruments and consumer goods including protective coatings and .

Explore further: Self-replicating nanostructures made from DNA

More information: View the abstract at www.agronomy.org/publications/jeq/abstracts/39/6/1942

Related Stories

Small materials poised for big impact in construction

Nov 03, 2010

Bricks, blocks, and steel I-beams -- step aside. A new genre of construction materials, made from stuff barely 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, is about to debut in the building of homes, offices, bridges, ...

Where do nanomaterials go in the body?

Nov 02, 2009

Tiny, engineered nanomaterials can already be found in many consumer products, and have been hailed as having widespread future uses in areas ranging from medicine to industrial processes. However, little is known about what ...

CIDETEC and IBM to Develop Nanomaterials for Microelectronic

Sep 07, 2004

The CIDETEC Technological Centre in Donostia-San Sebastián and the IBM Almaden Research Center of California have signed a joint working agreement in order to develop different kinds of nanomaterials applicable to the microelectronics industry. The agreement has an initial d ...

EPA wants nanotechnology studied

Mar 16, 2006

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded grants worth $5 billion Thursday for a study of the health and environmental effects of nanotechnology.

EPA announces research strategy to study nanomaterials

Sep 29, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today outlined a new research strategy to better understand how manufactured nanomaterials may harm human health and the environment. Nanomaterials are materials that are between approximately ...

Nanomaterials May Have Large Environmental Footprint

Oct 22, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Environmental gains derived from the use of nanomaterials may be offset in part by the process used to manufacture them, according to research published in a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ec ...

Recommended for you

Self-replicating nanostructures made from DNA

May 28, 2015

(Phys.org)—Is it possible to engineer self-replicating nanomaterials? It could be if we borrow nature's building blocks. DNA is a self-replicating molecule where its component parts, nucleotides, have specific ...

Non-aqueous solvent supports DNA nanotechnology

May 27, 2015

Scientists around the world are using the programmability of DNA to assemble complex nanometer-scale structures. Until now, however, production of these artificial structures has been limited to water-based ...

Nanosilver and the future of antibiotics

May 27, 2015

Precious metals like silver and gold have biomedical properties that have been used for centuries, but how do these materials effectively combat the likes of cancer and bacteria without contaminating the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.