HOT article: assessing aquatic titanium dioxide nanomaterial exposure

As the use of nanoparticles in consumer and commercial products continues to rise, information on their effect on the environment is crucial.   Numerous studies have been conducted on nanoparticle toxicity but exposure studies have received, well, less exposure.

This paper offers a method for collecting and analysing titanium dioxide nanomaterials from municipal wastewater treatment plants – a major entry point of nanoparticles into aquatic environments. Paul Westerhoff (Arizona State University) and colleagues show that there is a clear possibility of TiO2 nanoparticles being released into the environment when conventional separation and filtration methods are used.  Microfiltration appears to reduce the levels of nanoparticles in the discharged effluent however.

Interestingly, the study also found that silica nanoparticles were present in much higher concentrations than TiO2, quantification of which were beyond the scope of this study, but are the subject of ongoing research.

This HOT article is part of our forthcoming themed issue on Environmental Nanotechnology and is free to access for 4 weeks.

Occurrence and removal of titanium at full scale wastewater treatment plants: implications for TiO2 nanomaterials
Paul Westerhoff, Guixue Song, Kiril Hristovski and Mehlika A. Kiser
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10017C

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