Environmental Science: Nano – the benefits!

Here are a few reminders of the great benefits of publishing with Environmental Science: Nano


- Free colour on all figures

- No page charges or limits

- Fast Publication (<100 days on average)

- Individual promotion of HOT articles

- Papers processed by peers in the field

- Free electronic reprints

- NIH Compliant

- Simple and effective submission process (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/esn)

- High quality content

- Free access to all content for the first 2 years after launch*


* 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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Making a water filter using a microwave and sugar

webwriter Marina Vance @marinavance explains….

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are becoming increasingly popular due to their antimicrobial properties. In fact, silver compounds have been used to treat or prevent infections since before penicillin was ever discovered. The ability of AgNPs to kill microorganisms brings great potential for treating drinking water in situations when traditional water treatment is not possible.

Roughly 10% of the world’s population does not have access to safe, clean drinking water because basic sanitation is lacking. In some cases, a point-of-use (aka in-your-home) water treatment method that is easy and affordable might make a great difference in preventing or reducing the incidence of diseases caused by water-borne microbes, such as cholera and poliomyelitis. A water filter that is embedded with a small amount of AgNPs is a great example of a point-of-use treatment method that can be easily distributed to homes in developing countries and used with minimal training.

In this paper, T. Dankovich, from the University of Virginia, presents us an elegant method for creating paper filters that are embedded with silver nanoparticles. Her method can be considered more environmentally friendly than usual silver nanoparticle synthesis techniques because the reducing agent is glucose (that’s right, sugar!) and the heating technique involved nothing more than a domestic microwave oven (that’s right, a kitchen microwave!). In this technique, silver nanoparticles were synthesized directly on the paper filters, as opposed to being synthesized in a liquid suspension and then applied onto the filter. This method avoids the potential pitfall of nanoparticle aggregation during application onto the filter.

The paper filters were successful treating water containing two different types of bacteria (E. coli, and E. faecalis). Moving forward, it will be interesting to know the efficiency of this type of filter in treating real surface water samples and the filtering capacity, or how many liters of water each filter is capable of treating before it needs to be replaced.

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

Microwave-assisted incorporation of silver nanoparticles in paper for point-of-use water purification
DOI: 10.1039/c4en00067f
Theresa A. Dankovich

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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Nanocellulose-based Nanocomposites: A Tutorial Review

A review which provides guidance to environmental science and engineering researchers on the production and use of nanocellulose-based nanocomposites. Ian Keyte writes more…

Nanocellulose (NC) provides a readily available and biodegradable substrate that can act as a novel template or carrier for a range of different nanomaterials (NMs) including carbonaceous, mineral and metal particles. NC is an ideal platform for inorganic NMs due to its high specific surface area, highly porous structure and high mechanical strength. The resulting NC combines the characteristics of both constituents therefore displaying synergistic properties useful for a variety of uses.

Peter Vikesland and colleagues from Virginia Tech and Duke University, USA provide a tutorial review discussing recent advances in the preparation of NC-based nanocomposites and their potential uses in addressing current and future environmental challenges. This is the first review of its kind to discuss the use of these novel nanocomposites in the context of environmental sciences and engineering applications.

Nanocellulose-based nanocomposites

You can download the full review for free* on our publishing platform

The authors describe:

  • different forms in which NC is produced,
  • how the NC can be derived both from plant materials and bacterial processes,
  • how NC can be modified into a number of useful forms.

Furthermore, in-depth discussion of the different methods used in the preparation of NC and different types of composites is provided. This includes a discussion of how the guest NM can be incorporated in/on to the NC structure, guidance regarding the challenges faced in these processes and how researchers have address these problems, and instructions on the best available methods currently known for these procedures.

The review also details the uses of NC-based nanocomposities in key environmental science/engineering applications and summarises the practical considerations and advantages these provide over more conventional NMs. This focuses on four principal areas:

1) The better incorporation of antimicrobial materials such as Ag NMs into NC-based filters for air and drinking water purification.

2) The use of NC as a support for photocatalysts and metal catalysts used in the degradation of organic pollutants in water remediation.

3) The use of Au NP/NC biosensors for monitoring of water-borne pathogens and organic contaminants.

4) The use of NC-based nanocomposites in the design of superior energy conversion devices such as fuel cells, solar cells and Li-ion battery manufacturing.

Finally, potential directions of further research in the field of NC nanocomposites are highlighted. Specifically, researching methods to better control the size and distribution of NMs on or within the NC substrate, investigating how the loading of NMs influence the potential applications, and ways to prolong the lifetime and/or regenerate NMs to ensure their sustainability.

Cellulose is an abundant, cheap and renewable resource. Nanocellulose is shown to form useful nanocomposites with inorganic nanomaterials, which display valuable optical, catalytic, electrical properties. This review provides guidance to researchers in the field of environmental sciences and engineering on the production and uses for this type of nanocomposites to address current and emerging environmental challenges.

Environmental science and engineering applications of nanocellulose-based nanocomposites
Haoran Wei, Katia Rodriguez, Scott Renneckar and Peter J. Vikesland
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 302
DOI: 10.1039/c4en00059e

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

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Carbon nanotubes as a Trojan Horse for heavy metals

Our new webwriter, Marina Vance writes about carbon nanotubes…

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are promising nanomaterials because of their many interesting properties: CNTs are flexible yet super strong and practically impossible to break. Depending on their atomic arrangement, CNTs can be semiconductors or very strong conductors of electricity. When it comes to transporting heat, this amazing material can move it very quickly along its length, while behaving as an insulator from side to side. CNTs can also be doped or decorated with different chemical elements, compounds, or nanoparticles and serve as a transport carrier for those materials. For these reasons, along with many others, CNTs are being developed for a myriad of applications, ranging from electronics to drug delivery. Because on this increasing interest in applications of CNTs, we can expect their global production to grow over time, which may lead to an increase in the potential for CNTs to be released into the environment or to be put into contact with people.

Jie Li and colleagues explored the possibility that CNTs may serve as a “Trojan Horse” by carrying heavy metal ions that were incorporated onto their surface and then releasing those ions when they reach the environment. Imagine the giant Greek wooden horse, arriving the gates of the city of Troy, full of soldiers in its belly. Now, scratch that and imagine a carbon nanotube arriving in your local river, its back teeming with heavy metals. Will these metals dismount the CNTs and impact the wildlife of your local river? Will they go through the local treatment plant and arrive in your home, via your tap water? Or will these metals stay forever stuck onto the CNTs and not cause any harm?

To answer this question, researchers from China studied different types of CNTs with a variety of metal ions: copper, hexavalent chromium (a known carcinogen), and arsenic (a known toxic chemical).

They found that the absorption and desorption of heavy metals from CNTs do not occur at the same pace. In practical terms, the metal ions come off the CNTs slower than the rate at which they are put onto the CNTs. When comparing different types of CNTs, they found that multi-walled CNTs and double-walled CNTs have a higher capacity to carry arsenic and chromium cations than single walled CNTs or oxidized CNTs. For copper (an anion), they observed exactly the opposite.

The sorption of heavy metal ions onto the surface of CNTs is a reversible process.Therefore it is possible that once CNTs enter the environment, they release the metals which they were carrying. The higher the concentration of metals, the more reversible this process might be. The release of metals from CNTs occurs differently for negatively versus positively charged ionic metals and varies greatly among different types of CNTs. This means that we cannot predict what will happen to CNTs (and the metals they carry) in the environment without understanding their structure and knowing exactly what types of chemicals are sorbed onto their surface.

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

Jie Li, Changlun Chen, Shouwei Zhang and Xiangke Wang
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00044G

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

About the webwriter

Marina Vance is a research scientist at Virginia Tech and associate director of the Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Her work focuses on people’s exposure to nanomaterials.

Follow her on twitter: @marinavance

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Light Effects the Surface Chemistry of Oxidized Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes

By Imali Mudunkotuwa, Postdoctoral Researcher Scholar at University of Iowa and web writer for the Royal Society of Chemistry Environmental Team

Environmental transformation of engineered nanomaterials makes it extremely difficult for us to track them under natural conditions because their identity and the related properties are changing constantly. Therefore, much research is being conducted, simulating natural environmental conditions, to understand these nanoparticle transformations and the subsequent behavior. One such parameter which is constantly under investigation is the effect of sun light or more specifically the visible (400-700 nm) – lower energy UVA light (300-400 nm). Since higher energy UV-light (UVB and UVC) is efficiently absorbed by the ozone layer and the atmosphere, not much attention has been given to the transformations caused by them. However, UVC radiation is used heavily in municipal drinking and wastewater treatment plants for water disinfection from microorganisms. Given the increasing usage of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and their potential release into water systems, Julie L. Bitter and co-workers of John Hopkins University, Baltimore in USA have conducted a thorough investigation on the transformations occurring on oxidized multiwalled CNTs (O-MWCNTs) upon the exposure to UVC (254 nm) irradiation.

In this work, O-MWCNTs suspended in ultrapure water was subjected to UVC irradiation under two configurations;

(1) large batch volumes,

(2) small batch volumes.

Samples treated under large batch volumes were used in characterization studies and mass loss measurements while the latter was used in particle sizing and concentration measurements. Furthermore, the effect of water quality parameters was investigated by varying the solution pH and the ionic strength.

oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes

The results indicated that O –MWCNTs surface undergo decarboxylation inducing aggregation causing the particles to settle out of the solution. This process was found to be dominated by one photon, direct excitation mechanism instead of the mechanism mediated by reactive oxygen species. Surface characterization with XPS analysis as well as chemical derivatization showed a significant reduction in the distribution of oxygen-containing functional groups upon irradiation, supporting the above observation. Furthermore, it was interesting to note that aggregation was resisted until a sufficient number of carboxylic acid groups were removed where the electrostatic repulsions between the O-MWCNTs were no longer strong enough to prevent aggregation. This UVC induced aggregation was observed at all the light intensities and under both oxic and anoxic conditions. The resistance towards photo-induced aggregation however, was enhanced under high pH and low ionic strength conditions.

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

Transformations of oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes exposed to UVC (254 nm) irradiation

Julie L. Bitter,   Jin Yang,   Somayeh Beigzadeh Milani,  Chad T. Jafvert and   D. Howard Fairbrother

DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00073K

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

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