Special ES: Nano Themed Issue on Nanotoxicology

An open invite from our associate editor Kristin Schirmer and co-guest editor Melanie Auffan

Are you currently doing research in an area of Nanotoxicology?

We propose to publish a unique themed issue of Environmental Science: Nano dedicated to nanotoxicology, which will be published in 2015 with the aim to provide a state-of-the-art synopsis of mechanistic knowledge obtained thus far with regard to the interactions of engineered nanomaterials with organisms in the environment, i.e. aquatic or terrestrial.

The past few years have seen an increase in research aimed at studying the toxicity of nanomaterials to organisms living in the environment. Yet, to this date, many studies are descriptive in nature: they simply report the nominal mass concentrations of nanomaterials that produce a stress response or toxic effect to individual organisms.

Therefore in this issue, we would like to present research aimed at elucidating mechanisms of nanomaterial-organism interactions based on thorough nanomaterial characterization as it presents itself upon exposure to organisms.

Associate editor Kristin Schirmer at EAWAG and co-guest editor Melanie Auffan at Duke University (CEREGE) are encouraging submissions from all areas of nanotoxicology, including:

  • Mechanistic interactions at the environment-organism (cell) barrier.
  • Quantification of cell or organism uptake, distribution and visualization of nanomaterials.
  • Elucidation of adaptive and/or toxic response pathways.
  • Environment–organism –nanomaterial corona.
  • Systemic stress responses (immune function, behaviour and development, and others).
  • Interference with Ecosystem Network Interactions (bioaccumulation and biomagnification, impact on symbiosis, communication and many more).

Submit your paper now!

Submission Deadline: 31st April 2015

You may contribute a Review or a Research paper – the only requirement being that it should be of the highest quality/calibre. Submitted manuscripts need to adhere to Environmental Science: Nano author guidelines, all manuscripts will still be subject to standard peer review procedures and an invitation does not mean automatic acceptance.

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

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

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Will nanoparticle uptake in maize plants effect human health?

webwriter Laurel Hamers @arboreal_laurel tells us about recent research on the uptake of zinc nanoparticles by maize plants

As nanoparticles find their way into more products, consumers and scientists alike are concerned about the impact their spread may have on our health. When answering this question, it is important to consider not just our direct interaction with nanoparticles through consumer products that incorporate them, but also the ways they might indirectly make their way into our environment. For instance, nanoparticles in the soil could be taken up by plants that we might later eat.

As a global food staple, maize is an ideal candidate for a comprehensive investigation of this topic. In a recent study published in Environmental Science: Nano, a team of researchers investigated the extent to which maize plants take up zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles—one of the most widely used nanomaterials—and the pathways by which they do so. Their results suggest that ZnO nanoparticles dissolve into Zn2+ ions to make their way into the epidermis and roots of the plants, but rarely translocate to the shoots.

The researchers grew maize hydroponically, adding different concentrations of ZnO nanoparticles or Zn2+ ions to the water. Unsurprisingly, higher concentrations of zinc in the growth medium correlated with higher concentrations of zinc in the plants. The zinc content in the maize plants was virtually identical whether the plants were grown in ZnO solution or Zn2+ solution, suggesting that most ZnO nanoparticles make their way into maize plants by first dissolving into Zn2+, instead of being taken up whole. Zinc taken up by this pathway tended to form phosphate complexes inside the plants, largely preventing it from moving upwards into the shoots.

However, TEM imaging of plants treated with fluorescently labeled ZnO nanoparticles showed that some intact nanoparticles did find their way into the maize plants. These nanoparticles accumulated mostly in the root cortex, occasionally making their way into the vascular tissue. As with the dissolved zinc, though, the zinc oxide nanoparticles were often biotransformed to zinc phosphate and prevented from moving into the shoots.

It seems that in the case of maize, zinc oxide nanoparticles do not directly impact the parts of the plant that we would eat, but excessive accumulation of zinc compounds could potentially affect the plant’s overall health. It is unclear from this study whether the findings can be generalized to interactions between other crops and other types of nanoparticles, or even whether the pathway holds for soil-grown (as opposed to hydroponic) maize plants. Nevertheless, it provides a first step towards a comprehensive understanding of plants’ responses to and defenses against nanoparticles.

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

Accumulation, speciation and uptake pathway of ZnO nanoparticles in maize

Jitao Lv, Shuzhen Zhang, Lei Luo, Jing Zhang, Ke Yang and  Peter Christie
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00064A

Liked this blog post? Read Laurel’s previous entry on how rare earth elements trace nanoparticles through the environment.

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

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Nanoceria in our bodies

an article by Marina Vance (follow her on Twitter @marinavance)

Ceria nanoparticles, also known as nanoceria (cerium IV oxide, CeO2) are quickly climbing the nanotechnology popularity ladder.  Ten years ago, there were hardly any academic publications using the term “nanoceria” and now there are dozens of publications per year on the subject. However, the consumer market still only has a couple of products that advertise to contain this nanomaterial.

So, could it be that we are finally getting ahead of the curve in attempting to understand environmental impacts of this nanomaterial before it becomes widely popular?

ES Nano recently published a special themed collection on this interesting nanomaterial, whose main property as a catalyst brings promise for a variety of applications. Two other ES: Nano blog posts have focused on the health effects of nanoceria and its biodistribution in rats.


Nanoceria is a powerful catalyst because its chemical structure shows an oxygen vacancy, so oxygen atoms can move around it while oxidizing and reducing molecules in its vicinity.

It absorbs reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals, which brings a potential cosmetic and medical application. This material also absorbs UV radiation, so it might be used to replace titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in sunscreens in the future.

Since nanoceria has the potential to be a widely used in medical and cosmetic applications, it is pivotal to understand its behavior in biologically relevant environments. A recent paper by Sudipta Seal and colleagues discusses the environmental factors that can alter the properties of nanoceria and thus dictate its behavior in biological systems.

According to the authors, properties such as size, surface chemistry, surface stabilizers of nanoceria may affect its behavior in biological systems, but important issues remain to be addressed: Do slight variations in size and physico-chemical properties dictate fundamentally different behaviors? Are observed variations due to fundamentally different nanoparticles or did those particles undergo transformations? How should particles be appropriately prepared for relevant environmental and toxicology studies?

Although these general questions can be asked about a number of other nanomaterials, they are particularly relevant to nanoceria, since so little is known about this trending and promising material so far.


To access the full article, download a copy for free* by clicking the link below:
Behavior of nanoceria in biologically-relevant environments

Amit Kumar, Soumen Das, Prabhakaran Munusamy, William Self, Donald R. Baer, Dean C. Sayle and Sudipta Seal
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014, 1, 516-532
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00052H

Did you like this article?
Find out more about Marina in her first Environmental Science: Nano blog article on carbon nanotubes
.

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

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Nanoceria themed issue

Environmental Science: Nano is proud to present the latest research on the field of nanoceria

We are delighted to introduce our latest themed issue focused on the exciting topic of nanoceria!

This issue contains perspectives from a workshop on nanoceria held last November in California, preceding the Second Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Conference.

Recognising that there was little communication but controversy among researchers investigating nanocerias’s beneficial and adverse effects, Robert Yokel proposed a workshop to bring together researchers to discuss its yang and yin.

This event was organized and attended by expert researchers actively investigating the beneficial and untoward effects of nanocerias.

Nanoceria is expected to have future application in fuel cells and batteries, and has shown benefit in treating numerous medical conditions that have inflammatory and oxidative injury components.

Robert A. Yokel, Guest Editor
Read his editorial online

This focused issue contains interesting perspectives and original research reports of studies focusing on nanocerias. The aim of this collection has been trying to understand the bases of nanocerias’ divergent effects.

The first part of this issue addresses what we currently know, which are the identified data gaps, and recommends what needs to be determined about the chemical, biological, human health, and environmental aspects of nanoceria.

Previously unpublished results of research studies of nanocerias comprise the second part of this collection.

This collection is the most comprehensive and current source of information on the chemistry, biology, and beneficial and untoward effects of nanocerias.

Robert’s research papers on nanoceria biodistribution and retention in rats and on adverse health perspectives of nanoceria were included in this collection. We would like to thank him for guest editing this tremendously exciting issue.

Read some of the papers included in this remarkable collection for free*:

Tutorial Review:
Exploring the properties and applications of nanoceria: is there still plenty of room at the bottom?
Kenneth Reed, Alastair Cormack, Aniruddha Kulkarni, Mark Mayton, Dean Sayle, Fred Klaessig and Brad Stadler
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00079J

Critical Review:
Behavior of nanoceria in biologically-relevant environments
Amit Kumar, Soumen Das, Prabhakaran Munusamy, William Self, Donald R. Baer, Dean C. Sayle and Sudipta Seal
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00052H

Articles:
Effect of cerium oxide nanoparticles on asparagus lettuce cultured in an agar medium
Di Cui, Peng Zhang, Yuhui Ma, Xiao He, Yuanyuan Li, Jing Zhang, Yuechun Zhao and Zhiyong Zhang
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00025K

Metabolomic effects in HepG2 cells exposed to four TiO2 and two CeO2 nanomaterials
Kirk T. Kitchin, Eric Grulke, Brian L. Robinette and Benjamin T. Castellon
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00096J

Read the full collection on our website

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

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Predicting nanoparticle behaviour in the real world

an article by Paramjeet Pati, PhD Candidate

You and I are not friends, for you are a fish and I am a clam. We are uneasy neighbours. The river water is your playground, the sediment – my sanctuary. If we were living in the Elk River in West Virginia, both of us would have been worried on January 9, 2014. Something changed in the water that day, as crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) poured into the river from a leaky storage tank. Would the MCHM have dissolved in the water or bound to sediment? Which of us would have been in more danger – the resident of the water or the denizen of the sediment?

But you are no fish and I am no clam. So, we could try to answer these questions by doing some batch experiments: Take some sediment sample in a bottle, add some water and MCHM, close the bottle tight and shake it for some time. Then measure the concentrations of MCHM and to figure out whether it loves the water or prefers the sediment. We could also run column experiments: Mix some MCHM in water, flow through a packed column and measure the concentrations at the column inlet and outlet to see how much of the MCHM attaches to the column and how much is still left in water at the outlet.

The information gleaned from these experiments regarding the relative concentrations in the sediment, the water or the packed column, are called fate descriptors. Researchers have calculated fate descriptors for thousands of chemicals to figure out whether they partition into the water or the sediment, or volatilize into the air. Fate descriptors help us predict who faces the greatest danger – the clam, the fish or the dragonfly hovering over the water.

Can we run these batch and column experiments to reliably predict the behaviour of nanoparticles in the environment? The concept of fate descriptors calculated from batch and column experiments was established for molecular chemicals.

But nanoparticles have distinctly different properties and do not behave as single molecules. The use of some previously established fate descriptors to predict the environmental fate and transport of nanoparticles has come under criticism.

In a recent perspective article, Dr. Geert Cornelis has discussed the challenges in developing environmentally relevant fate descriptors for nanoparticles. In the same vein, at the 3rd Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Conference, Dr. Mark Wiesner and Dr. Greg Lowry stressed on the need to develop functional assays that provide nano-specific fate descriptors.

Like the batch and column experiments, these functional assays need to be operationally simple and of relatively short duration. Indeed, as mentioned in in the perspective article, “[t]he most appropriate method is most likely a compromise between technical accuracy and operational simplicity…”.

You can read more about these challenges and potential solutions in the full article for free*:
“Fate descriptors for engineered nanoparticles: the good, the bad, and the ugly”
Geert Cornelis
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00122B

—————-

About the webwriter

Paramjeet Pati is a PhD Candidate at the Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (@VTSuN).
You can find more articles by him in the VTSuN blog, where he writes using the name
coffeemug.

—————-

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

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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

Make sure you don’t miss out on the latest journal news by registering your details to receive the regular Environmental Science: Nano e-alert.

Follow us on Twitter @ESNano_RSC.

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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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