Introducing Advisory Board Member, Rajender S. Varma

We are delighted to introduce Rajender S. Varma as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Rajender S. Varma
Raj is a Senior Scientist in the Sustainable Technology Division of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati.

Raj’s research expertise covers a number of multi-disciplinary topics, including development of environmentally benign synthetic methods and chemical protocols using alternate energy input. He is also an expert in greener synthesis of nanomaterials and nanocomposites and their applications in catalysis, as well as in sustainable remediation of hazardous pollutants

His long term goals are to contribute broad expertise in chemistry to evaluate novel and safer environmental protocols in industrial chemistry and its impact in human health and environmental sciences.

Raj’s passion:

I have a passion for research, especially for a sustainable way of thinking to address research problems.

Rajender S. Varma, Editorial Board Member, Environmental Science: Nano

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Detecting Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Soot and Soil using AFFFF – MALS

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) are the preferred choice of nanotubes for many applications as they has a lower cost than the single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT). Therefore the chances of them getting into air, natural water systems and soil is extremely probable. Although many beneficial effects are postulated for MWCNTs direct applications such as incorporation into fertilizer to enhance water uptake, seed germination and cell growth can increase their levels in the environment, especially in soil. Since there is evidence of some negative affects on soil microbial communities as well as plants it is always better to have means of monitoring and controlling their levels in the environment. However, methods to detect and quantify MWCNTs in soil and sediments are still not well established. Therefore, Alexander Gogos and co-workers from the Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences in Switzerland have developed and evaluated a novel approach using asymmetric field flow fractionation (A4F) coupled with multi-angle light scattering (MALS) to differentiate MWCNTs in soil.

Here the high aspect ratios of MWCNT’s have been exploited to differentiate between MWCNTs, soot and native soil particles. The shape factors (ρ) for these materials were calculated by taking the ratio between the radius of gyration (rg) and the hydrodynamic radius (rh). Simply, the rg corresponds to the weighted average of all possible radii of a particle from its center of mass and rh is approximated for non-spherical particles as the radius of a sphere with same diffusion behavior. Elaborately, presence of MWCNTs in the mixtures resulted in increased ρ-values. The fractions of MWCNTs in the mixtures were calculated using the ρ-values obtained from A4F-MALS. They were cross-validated by comparing with the results obtained from automated electron microscopy analysis and were found to be in reasonable agreement. Since natural soils exhibited lower ρ-values consistently this method can be used in specific identification of MWCNTs as well as other high aspect ratio nanomaterials in soil.

To access the full article, download a copy for free* by clicking the link below.

Capabilities of asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation coupled to multi-angle light scattering to detect carbon nanotubes in soot and soil.
Alexander Gogos, Ralf Kaegi, Renato Zenobi, Thomas D. Bucheli
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00070F

*Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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John Jeyes Award 2014

Professor Vicki Grassian, Chair of Environmental Science: Nano was awarded the John Jeyes Award 2014 this week for her pioneering contributions to the chemistry of environmental interfaces, heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry and the environmental implications of nanomaterials.

The John Jeyes Award, founded in 1975, is a biennial award for chemistry in relation to the environment. John Jeyes was a prolific inventor and scientist who in 1877 invented one of the first disinfectants, which is still used today. This is one of the six awards and prizes that are given by the Environment, Sustainability and Energy Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry.


The picture shows ES:Nano Executive Editor, Harpal Minhas, presenting
Vicki Grassian with the John Jeyes award at the 2014 SNO Conference.

Vicki Grassian, Founding Director of the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Iowa, has mentored over one hundred students and postdocs in her laboratory with many of them now having their own research programs focused on energy and the environment and developed the chemical sciences track of the undergraduate degree program in environmental science.


“The John Jeyes Award is wonderful recognition of the research that has been done by the students and postdoctoral associates who have worked in my laboratory”


We would like to congratulate Vicki on her achievement and take this opportunity to thank her for her pioneering contributions to Environmental Science: Nano , bringing together a variety of communities to publish their work on nanoscience and the implications for the environment, health and sustainability.

Vicki’s latest ES:Nano paper ‘Iron oxide nanoparticles induce Pseudomonas aeruginosa growth, induce biofilm formation and inhibit antimicrobial peptide function‘ (C3EN00029J) is included in a dedicated themed collection of papers celebrating the 2014 RSC Prize and Award winners.


Each year the Royal Society of Chemistry gives out over 60 awards and prizes that recognise excellence in the chemical sciences. Our 2015 awards and prizes are open for nomination now, why not nominate someone today?

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SNO Emerging Investigator

And the winner is….Debora Rodrigues

The SNO Emerging Investigator gives recognition to emerging scientists and engineers working in the area of Sustainable Nanotechnology. ES:Nano is pleased to announce the inaugural winner is Professor Debora Rodrigues. Professor Rodrigues research on carbon-based materials is well recognized and covers both applications of nanomaterials for improving water quality and implications on the safety of nanomaterials.  As an independent investigator, she has published widely in these areas.  In 2012 she received a U.S. National Science Early CAREER Award  “Toxicology of graphene-based nanomaterials: A molecular biotechnology approach”.  At the University of Houston, Professor Rodrigues is known as an outstanding researcher, a passionate educator and a role model.  Editor-in-Chief Vicki Grassian says that Professor Rodrigues was selected because of her pioneering and outstanding contributions to the field of sustainable nanotechnology including nanotoxicology and applications of nanotechnology in water remediation.


The picture shows ES:Nano Editor-in-Chief, Vicki Grassian (Left) and Executive Editor, Harpal Minhas (right) presenting Debora Rodrigues (middle) with her award at the 2014 SNO Conference.


About Debora

After completing her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University in 2007, Debora moved to Yale University focusing her research on investigating the antimicrobial effects of carbon nanotubes on viruses and bacteria as well as their impact on soil microbial community. In 2010 she became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Houston.

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Nano2014 Winners!

The 9th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials

Following our recent entry regarding the 9th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials (Nano2014), we proudly present the award winners of this inspiring conference.

This year, the conference was held from September 7th –11th in Columbia, South Carolina, and the awards were jointly granted by Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Science: Nano.

With no further delay, let’s introduce the names of the winners!

Best Poster: Daniel Starnes (University of Kentucky)
Silver Nanoparticles, they get better with age

Runner up: Seyyedali Mirshahghassemi (University of South Carolina)
Separation of oil from wastewater using iron oxide nanoparticles

Best Oral Presentation: Maryam Khaksar (University of South Australia)
In situ study of the chemical transformation of surface functionalized silver nanoparticles along the water-sediment continuum

Runner up: Van Ortega (University of Alberta)
The effects of nanoparticle exposures on the phagocytic capacity of immune cells

Congratulations to all of the winners! The judges of the prize thought the quality of the presentations were really high and, from the Environmental Science: Nano team, we would like to thank all the students that attended or presented at the meeting.

To mark this special occasion, Environmental Science: Nano is proud to announce an exciting web collection that will gather together review articles, original research papers and communications covering topics discussed at the conference.


We welcome submissions from key research areas including but not limited to:

- Physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles as related to the environment and health
- Ageing and effects of fate and behaviour
- Toxicology and ecotoxicology
- Social and regulatory sciences
- Innovation and applications of nanotechnology to environmental and health issues

For more information on the scope of Environmental Science: Nano, our article types and author guidelines, please visit our website or contact us at esnano-rsc@rsc.org.

Please note that all submitted manuscripts will be subject to peer review in accordance to the journals high quality standards.

Submission Deadline: 18th December 2014

We hope to receive a manuscript from you or your group soon.

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Nanoceria biodistribution and retention

Nanoceria (nanoparticle form of CeO2, cerium(IV) oxide) is quickly becoming a trending topic in Environmental Science. After recently discussing its health effects, today we present a fascinating paper regarding its biodistribution and retention in rats.

Currently, the main use for nanoceria is as an abrasive catalyst, especially important for the industry in silicon integrated circuit fabrication. In addition to that, and thanks to its autocatalytic behaviour, encouraging results have been presented in the past regarding its use as an antineoplastic agent. Nevertheless, there is concern on the topic of its toxicity in organisms.

Dr Robert A. Yokel and colleagues from the University of Kentucky have conducted an extensive investigation on the distribution and retention of several nanocerias after their systemic administration to rats.

The aim of their study was to determine if and how the biodistribution and persistence of nanocerias are modified according to the doses administered.

Additionally, interesting discussions regarding nanoceria shape and its influence on its toxicity, retention and disposition have been presented.

Moving forward, it will be exceptionally exciting to learn more about nanoceria’s clinical properties and effects on animals. In any case, this work is a big step forward in its research, helping us to clarify and consolidate our knowledge of the behaviour of nanocerias in mammalian organisms.

To access the full article, download a copy for free* by clicking the link below:

Nanoceria biodistribution and retention in the rat after its intravenous administration are not greatly influenced by dosing schedule, dose, or particle shape
Robert A. Yokel, Jason M. Unrine, Peng Wu, Binghui Wang and Eric A. Grulke
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00035H

The paper mentioned today is part of our Nanoceria Research themed collection, which is the most comprehensive and current source of information on the chemistry, biology, and beneficial and untoward effects of nanocerias.

*Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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Health effects of nanoceria

Webwriter, Laurel Hamers @arboreal_laurel discusses a critical review by Nanoceria Themed Issue Guest Editor, Robert Yokel Laurel Hamers

Nanomaterials have shown such great potential to advance science and engineering that sometimes research on their applications can skip ahead of safety tests.

Nanoceria, a commonly used nanomaterial, is one such substance. These fine grains of cerium oxide have been proposed for use in fuels, sunscreens, and even pharmaceutical treatments, but the effects of long-term exposure have not been comprehensively investigated. Now, in a critical review published in Environmental Science: Nano’s themed issue, a team of pharmacists and environmental chemists have compiled and analyzed the available research on nanoceria’s health effects.

Nanoceria appears to have minimal effects when applied to the skin, and is not absorbed into the body through the digestive tract. However, once it makes its way into the bloodstream, whether through inhalation or direct injection, it can travel throughout the body.

Nanoceria is biopersistent, meaning that it does not dissolve or break down in the body, but instead builds up. When it finds its way into certain organs—such as the lungs or the liver—it can take months to completely leave, and can lead to inflammation and abnormal tissue growth. As with many hazardous materials, the risks are greater with higher doses or longer-term exposure.

The researchers propose that nanoceria’s toxic effects occur through inducing oxidative stress, an imbalance between oxidizing molecules and antioxidants that can disrupt biochemical pathways in the body. Because the surface properties of nanomaterials are believed to have the greatest influence on their potential toxicity, the authors suggest that coating the particles with a biologically inert material or altering their surface structure could reduce their impacts.

Nanoceria should not be indiscriminately avoided based on these findings—and some research has found positive biological applications for the substance, and even essential chemicals like water can be toxic in high enough doses. Rather, scientists working with these particles should understand their potential risks and work to minimize them.

To access the full article, download a copy for free* by clicking the link below.

The yin: an adverse health perspective of nanoceria: uptake, distribution, accumulation, and mechanisms of its toxicity
DOI: 10.1039/c4en00039k
R. Yokel et al.

Liked this blog? Find out more about Laurel in her first Environmental Science: Nano blog on rare earth elements.

*Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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Nanoparticle studies leave the lab

written by Megan Tyler

Scientists have gone beyond laboratory based experiments and have used a mesocosm to accurately study the fate of single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in wetland ecosystems, showing that SWNTs accumulate and persist in aquatic sediments.

Lee Ferguson and his team constructed a wetland mesocosm to examine the fate of carbon nanotubes in the aquatic environment © Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, US

Single walled carbon nanotubes are an intriguing class of nanoparticle, and their unique properties have led to their use in a wide variety of applications, ranging from microelectronics to energy storage and even drug delivery. However, the impact of SWNTs on the environment is not fully understood. As the use of SWNTs in industry increases, environmental contamination due to spills of SWNT-containing waste or weathering of SWNT-containing products becomes ever more likely, and so the importance of studies focusing on the fate of SWNTs in the environment is growing.

To read the full article, please visit Chemistry World.

Download the full article for free*:

Fate of single walled carbon nanotubes in wetland ecosystems
Ariette Schierz, Benjamin Espinasse, Mark R. Wiesner, Joseph H. Bisesi, Tara Sabo-Attwood and P. Lee Ferguson
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00063C, Paper

* Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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Inhalation toxicity of carbon nanotubes

By Marina Vance @marinavance

You may have heard of a material called asbestos. Asbestos was used as a construction material in the 19th and 20th centuries until it became the pivot of a widely-spread health concern in the 1980s and 1990s. The fibers’ long aspect ratio and crystalline makeup can cause serious respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer. This health hazard drove a ban on asbestos products.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) also have a high aspect ratio—they are very long and thin, and their atoms are also very neatly arranged in a crystal structure. So it is fair to assume that, if inhaled, CNTs may deposit on the respiratory system and cause a health risk similar to that of asbestos.

Currently there are multiple research efforts aiming at understanding the potential inhalation toxicity of CNTs. One complicated issue of this type of research is being able to discern the toxic effect caused by the CNT and the metal catalysts that are usually present. These metal catalysis are used to help synthesize CNTs and left at the tips of the tubes. The recently published work of Cerasela Zoica Dinu and colleagues examines the toxicity of CNTs that had been stripped clean of their metal catalysts.

Another very complicating factor of examining the inhalation toxicity to nanomaterials in general—but especially fibers—is  exposing lung cell cultures to nanomaterials in the same way that our lung cells would be exposed to these very nanomaterials, in air. While this work didn’t use the air route to expose the lung cells to CNTs, they were able to find interesting results. Their research takes us one step closer to understanding how CNTs interact with human cells, cause changes in multiple cellular processes to result in various degrees of toxicity.

To access the full article, download a copy for free* by clicking the link below.

Towards Elucidating the Effects of Purified MWCNTs on Human Lung Epithelial cells
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00102H
Chenbo Dong et al.

Liked this blog? Find out more about Marina in her first Environmental Science Nano blog on carbon nanotubes.

* Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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Modelling in Environmental Nanotechnology

Environmental Science: Nano, Greg Lowry, Jamie Lead and Mohammed Baalousha are pulling together a themed issue on Modelling in Environmental Nanotechnology.


We invite you to contribute your exciting research to our special issue on Modelling in Environmental Nanotechnology.

This themed issue will include a set of papers presenting state-of-the-art models for the fate, behavior, exposure, uptake and toxicity of nanomaterials in the environment and in organisms. This will include a wide range of model types for environmental and biological processes affecting nanomaterial behavior and effects. Review papers on the state of the science for particular model subsets, e.g. computational toxicology or bio-uptake modelling are also desired.


For more information on the scope of Environmental Science: Nano, our article types and author guidelines, please visit our website or email us esnano-rsc@rsc.org. Please note that all submitted manuscripts will be subject to peer review in accordance to the journals high quality standards.

Submission Deadline: 15th March 2015

We hope to receive a manuscript from you or your group soon.
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