Environmental Science: Nano – the benefits!

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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.


Following on from the 9th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials (Nano2014), held in September  2014, we invite you to contribute your exciting research to our special issue.

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

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 nanomatieral behavior and effects. Review papers on the state of the science for particular model subsets, e.g. computational toxicology or bio-uptake modeling 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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A call for papers from the 2014 ICEENN Conference

Did you attend the 2014 ICEENN Conference?

The 9th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials (Nano2014) was held September 7th – 11th 2014, bringing together researchers, regulators, and industry to discuss the potential hazards and risks of current and future applications in the key sector of nanotechnology, along with mechanisms to bring about risk reduction while maintaining economic and social benefits.

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

As one of the official Publishers for the conference, Environmental Science: Nano is delighted 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 such as:
  • 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 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: 18th December 2014

We hope to receive a manuscript from you or your group soon.
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Most accessed ES:Nano articles in Q2 2014


Here are the Top 10 most accessed Environmental Science:Nano articles from April – June 2014

Surface chemistry, charge and ligand type impact the toxicity of gold nanoparticles to <it>Daphnia magna</it>
Jared S. Bozich, Samuel E. Lohse, Marco D. Torelli, Catherine J. Murphy, Robert J. Hamers and Rebecca D. Klaper
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 260-270
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00006D

Recent advances in BiOX (X = Cl, Br and I) photocatalysts: synthesis, modification, facet effects and mechanisms
Liqun Ye, Yurong Su, Xiaoli Jin, Haiquan Xie and Can Zhang
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 90-112
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00098B

Zeolite and mesoporous silica nanomaterials: greener syntheses, environmental applications and biological toxicity
Sean E. Lehman and Sarah C. Larsen
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 200-213
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00031E

Tracking dissolution of silver nanoparticles at environmentally relevant concentrations in laboratory, natural, and processed waters using single particle ICP-MS (spICP-MS)
D. M. Mitrano, J. F. Ranville, A. Bednar, K. Kazor, A. S. Hering and C. P. Higgins
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 248-259
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00108C

Synthesis and characterization of isotopically labeled silver nanoparticles for tracing studies
Adam Laycock, Björn Stolpe, Isabella Römer, Agnieszka Dybowska, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Jamie R. Lead and Mark Rehkämper
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 271-283
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00100H

Green synthesis and formation mechanism of cellulose nanocrystal-supported gold nanoparticles with enhanced catalytic performance
Xiaodong Wu, Canhui Lu, Zehang Zhou, Guiping Yuan, Rui Xiong and Xinxing Zhang
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 71-79
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00066D

Localized fluorescent complexation enables rapid monitoring of airborne nanoparticles
Fanxu Meng, Maria D. King, Yassin A. Hassan and Victor M. Ugaz
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 358-366
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00017J

Deposition of nanoparticles onto polysaccharide-coated surfaces: implications for nanoparticle–biofilm interactions
Kaoru Ikuma, Andrew S. Madden, Alan W. Decho and Boris L. T. Lau
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 117-122
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00075C

Silver nanoparticle protein corona composition compared across engineered particle properties and environmentally relevant reaction conditions
Richard Eigenheer, Erick R. Castellanos, Meagan Y. Nakamoto, Kyle T. Gerner, Alyssa M. Lampe and Korin E. Wheeler
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 238-247
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00002A

Bioavailability of inorganic nanoparticles to planktonic bacteria and aquatic microalgae in freshwater
Nadia von Moos, Paul Bowen and Vera I. Slaveykova
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 214-232
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00054K

Take a look at the articles today and blog your thoughts and comments below.

Fancy submitting an article to ES:Nano? Then why not submit to us today or alternatively email us your suggestions.

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Solution Conditions Affect Chloronitrobenzene Reduction

Groundwater contamination is becoming a bigger problem than in the past as a result of ever increasing industries and agricultural practices. Furthermore, a significant percentage of drinking water supply relies on clean ground water such that its efficient and effective remediation is a timely need. Specifically chlorinated solvents and nitroaromatic compounds are oxidized organics, which are frequently found as persistent contaminants in groundwater. As a result of their stability in oxic environments these contaminants can act as transporters to a variety of other pollutants between soil and ground waters phases in addition to endangering humans and wildlife.

The oxidized functional groups in these contaminants can be reduced by Fe(II) associated with iron minerals thus providing means for their degradation that can be incorporated into engineered remediation schemes. Ferrihydrite, goethite, magnetite, hematite and lepidocrocite are examples of some ubiquitous iron containing minerals. In these degradation reactions the number of reactive sites on the minerals are directly related to the specific surface area and thereforethe nanoparticles of these minerals, which inherently has large surface areas hold the greatest potential towards degrading these contaminants. Nevertheless, nanoparticles are highly susceptible to aggregation, which can significantly hinder the efficiency of the reduction process. Therefore, Amanda M. Stemig and co-workers from the University of Minnesota, have conducted an extensive investigation using 4-Chloronitrobenzene (4-ClNB) as a model compound to elucidate the link between the aggregation state of iron oxide nanoparticles and their reactivity.

The study was conducted by using well-characterized goethite nanoparticles  as the iron containing minerals. The results revealed that the size of the goethite nanoparticles are significantly reduced upon the adsorption of transition metals. This is, of course no surprise as the adsorption of transition metals introduces additional surface charge. Furthermore, a comparison between the pseudo first order rate constants of 4-ClNB degradation in a variety of buffers indicated that the buffer type affected the reaction kinetics by controlling the aggregation state and thereby changing the available surface area. It was clearly demonstrated that zwitterionic buffers with spatial charge separations are better at preventing aggregation, giving better degradation rates. In addition buffer concentration also affected the degradation kinetics as higher buffer concentrations resulted in more densely packed aggregates with lowered surface area.

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

Goethite nanoparticle aggregation: effects of buffers, metal ions, and 4-chloronitrobenzene reduction

Amanda M. Stemig, Tram Anh Do, Virany M. Yuwono, William A. Arnold and R. Lee Penn

DOI: 10.1039/c3en00063j

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

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Rare earth elements trace nanoparticles through the environment

Nanotechnology may be a relatively new field of research, but nanosized materials have been present naturally in our environment since long before scientists started engineering them in the lab. As synthetic nanoparticles find their way into a greater variety of consumer items, however, public concern about their potential health effects has increased. Researchers trying to monitor the spread of engineered nanomaterials now face a challenge: how to distinguish their creations from the background nanomaterials already present in the environment.

A new paper recently published in Environmental Science: Nano, addresses this concern by using rare earth elements (REEs) to label synthetic nanoparticles and trace their path through the environment.

So-called REEs are actually fairly abundant in the earth’s crust, but are typically widely dispersed and are largely absent from background nanomaterials. In this paper, researchers at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, tagged titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles with two different REEs: lanthanum (La) and cerium (Ce). REEs were added to the nanoparticles during the synthesis stage so that they would be integrated into the particles’ structure. The incorporation of REEs induced a slight color shift, but did not cause significant structural changes—the labeled nanoparticles looked and behaved much like the non-labeled ones, though small differences in surface area and particle sized were observed at higher concentrations of REEs. However, because REEs are present in in the background in such low concentrations, the labeling technique is very sensitive—only a small amount of the element must be added in order for a signal to be picked up.

Then, the researchers tested whether their labeled nanoparticles were detectable in the environment. To simulate the type of contamination that might result from basic handling, they poured the nanoparticles between two beakers, a common laboratory procedure that has the potential to release particles into the air and deposit them onto the surrounding work surface.

They analyzed their work surface by systematically wiping the testing area and dissolving the wipe along with any particulate matter that it had picked up. Using optical spectrometry, they were able to quantify the amount of nanoparticle

s found near their beakers. The simple transfer procedure had spread nanoparticles across their work surface—a hint that failing to clean up the workspace between experiments could confound future results through cross-contamination!

Although this study found that even simple laboratory techniques can introduce nanoparticle contamination into the environment, it did not assess the potential health effects of these particles. Rather, the labeling technique described here provides an easy and sensitive method to trace engineered nanomaterials in the environment that will facilitate future studies attempting to answer this question.

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

Identification of TiO2 nanoparticles using La and Ce as labels: application to the evaluation of surface contamination during the handling of nanosized matter.
DOI: 10.1039/c4en00060a
V. Gomez et al

About the webwriter

Laurel Hamers is a recent graduate of Williams College and an aspiring science journalist. She has written for the Marine Biological Laboratory, Inside Science News Service, and the Materials Research Society. You can find her on her blog (sciencescope.wordpress.com) or on Twitter (@arboreal_laurel.)

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

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