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 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: 30th 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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Introducing Advisory Board Member, Omowunmi Sadik

We are delighted to introduce Omowunmi Sadik as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Omowunmi Sadik

Wunmi is a Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Director of the Center for Advanced Sensors & Environmental Systems and President of the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization.

Professor Sadik received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wollongong in Australia and did her postdoctoral research at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has held appointments at Harvard University, Cornell University and Naval Research Laboratories in Washington, DC.

Sadik’s research currently centers on the interfacial molecular recognition processes, sensors and biomaterials, and immunochemistry with tandem instrumental techniques. Her work utilizes electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques to study human exposure assessment, endocrine disrupters, and toxicity of naturally occurring chemical compounds.

Wunmi’s research:

The driving force behind my biosensor research is the need to build sensor systems that quantitatively measure target species in a complex system.

Omowunmi Sadik, Advisory 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-alerts.

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Environmental Risk Modeling of Nanoparticles: Kd vs α

A blog article by webwriter Imali Mudunkotuwa

Everyone loves and hates nanoparticle aggregation. Why? Because it is a fascinating phenomenon but it complicates all of our experiments, ranging from in vitro / in vivo studies, all the way to the environmental models. For ease of study, it can be broken down into homoaggregation and heteroaggregation. Investigating the former is relatively easier than the latter (relatively!), but in the real world we are forced to deal with the latter. Simply, heteroaggregation in the environment refers to attachment of ENPs to naturally occurring solids (e.g. soil particles, suspended sediments). This plays a key role in determining ENPs bioavailability and mobility in the environment.

Large-scale fate and transport models have been adapted for modelling of ENPs. Earlier models use mass balance as a framework with partition coefficients (Kd) to describe the soil-water distribution of ENPs, but recent studies argue that particle number-based kinetic models using attachment efficiency (α) are better at this, given that colloidal suspensions never reach an equilibrium state as well as ignore the size dependent properties. Yet no agreement has been established on the best way to treat heteroaggregation in these models.

Therefore, to shed light on this matter, Amy L. Dale (Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, PA), Gregory V. Lowry (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, PA), and Elizabeth A. Casman (CEINT, Duke University, NC) discuss in detail the ongoing practical challenges in model formulation, parameterization, and calibration for ENPs in their perspective.

A couple of highlights in this article are:

- Particle balance models are more complex, making it challenging to parameterize ENPs in the environment. Therefore, many assumptions are needed that have been discussed in detail in the perspective.

- Attachment efficiency is agreed to be the most appropriate fate descriptor for small-scale models, but at large-scale these models it is claimed to be relative insensitive to the particulate nature of ENPs.

Given the lack of scientific understanding on ENP heteroaggregation it was suggested that balance models to be the better choice, at least in the short term. Overall rates of sorption and desorption has been suggested to be used in the place of equilibrium partition coefficients to overcome concerns arising from using the equilibrium Kd.

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

Much ado about α: reframing the debate over appropriate fate descriptors in nanoparticle environmental risk modeling
Amy L. Dale, Gregory V. Lowry, Elizabeth A. Casman
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015, Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00170B

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About the webwriter

Imali Mudunkotuwa is a Postdoctoral Scholar and Research Assistant at The University of Iowa. She is interested in nanoscience, physical and surface chemistry. You can find more articles by Imali in her author archive .

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* Access is free through a registered RSC account

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Introducing Advisory Board Member, Ki-Bum Kim

We are delighted to introduce Ki-Bum Kim as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Ki-Bum Kim
Professor Kim is the supervisor of the Nano Fabrication Laboratory in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University.

Ki-Bum’s exciting research is focused on the fabrication of novel nanoscale materials and devices such as graphene, transparent conducting oxide, nanopore and nanochannel structures for manipulation of ions, biomolecules and DNA.

His team at the Nano Fabrication Laboratory has conducted a broad range of researches on thin film deposition, characterisation, nanoscale fabrication, and evaluation of emerging nanodevices, and they have particular interest in nanofluidic systems.

He has a broad interest on the structure and property relationship in thin film materials. In particular, he has actively worked on the development of metallisation processes for the next generation of Integrated Circuits (ICs), including the development of silicides, diffusion barriers, and interconnecting of materials and processes.

Ki Bum’s laboratory:

We are always open to creative research topics which give a new insight into novel emerging devices and nanoscale phenomena.

Ki-Bum Kim, Advisory 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-alerts.

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Quantum dots and a blocking model

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

Of all nanomaterials that I know and have studied in these past seven years working with environmental nanoscience, Quantum Dots (QDs) have by far been my favorites. They just sound so sci-fi. I mean, just listen to their name: Quantum dots [imagine a low, cinema narrator voice]. Also, they glow in neon multi-colors when exposed to UV light.

This interesting optical property of quantum dots is due to quantum confinement, a phenomenon that takes place when some semiconductor particles are so small that the trajectory of their electrons becomes confined. The level of confinement depends on the size of the particles, which is why QDs of different sizes emit different colors.

QDs present the potential for a wide variety of applications, such as solar cells, lasers, LEDs, medical imaging, and even quantum computing. They are just so cool!

One more thing I have learned in these few years working with environmental nanoscience is that anything with so many potential applications is bound to, somehow, end up in the environment.

Quantum dot dispersions hanging out and emitting their neon quantum confinement glow, no big deal.

A common type of QD is a nanohybrid made of a cadmium selenide (CdSe) core and a zinc sulfide (ZnS) shell (CdSe/ZnS), which has been shown to be toxic to organisms and is a known carcinogen to humans. So, it is important to understand the way in which these QDs will be transported through the environment.

QDs and other nanomaterials are often coated with surfactants or polymers to improve stability—to prevent nanoparticles from sticking to each other, which they love to do. The presence of coatings may deeply affect their interactions with the environment.

M. D. Becker and colleagues recently published a study to improve existing models for the transport of coated QDs through porous media, which is an idealized template for groundwater and soil.

They observed that QDs became increasingly stuck to the porous media as they were transported. Both the coating and the presence of other constituents in the environment (such as natural organic matter) may help QDs “slide” more easily through the porous media. But as these coatings are stripped off over time, particles end up getting stuck.

This behavior could not be explained by traditional nanoparticle transport models, so they developed a new transport model to account for the influence that coatings and other constituents may have in the transport of nanomaterials through porous media.


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

A multi-constituent site blocking model for nanoparticle and stabilizing agent transport in porous media
Matthew D. Becker, Yonggang Wang, Kurt D. Pennell and Linda M. Abriola
Environ. Sci
.: Nano, 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00176A


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About the webwriter

Marina is a PhD research scientist at Virginia Tech and Assoc. Director of @VTSuN. She is interested in air quality, nanotechnology and human health. You can find more information about her in her website mevance.com.

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* Access is free through a registered RSC account

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PTA for Graphene and Graphene Oxide Quantification

A blog article by webwriter Imali Mudunkotuwa

Graphene and graphene oxide are among the recent attractions in novel nanomaterials for electronic and composite applications. Structure of graphene can simply be viewed as taking a single walled carbon nanotubes and unrolling it to give a sheet.

History of graphene runs all the way back to the 19th century but the very first single layer graphene was synthesized in 2004, by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester, UK. Graphene can be synthesized to contain a single layer or multiple layers. Nanoscience and nanotechnology community has always been very excited about the remarkable electrical and heat conductivity of these materials and a significant influx of graphene into the composite and electronic markets are being anticipated.

There are raising concerns about environmental and health risks of these materials with this increasing usage as there are no established methods for their extraction from complex matrices and quantification. Therefore, Kyle Doudrick and co-workers from the University of Notre Dame and Arizona State University have successfully developed an extraction and quantification method for graphene and graphene oxide from biomass using in situ reduction method followed by detection with programmed thermal analysis (PTA).

PTA is known to determine the carbon mass based on the thermal stability. In this study, the separation was achieved by subjecting the samples to a time dependent temperature ramp program where the less thermally stable carbon compounds evolved early in the program and the high thermally stable compounds were evolved later. Graphene, which has a high thermal stability was therefore easily separated from rest of the components in the biomass. In order to obtain similar separation for graphene oxide that has a higher oxygen content, which limits the separation, an in situ reduction was conducted using sodium borohydride.

Since this makes the graphene oxides more hydrophobic forcing aggregation an efficient separation and extraction was expected. The results of the study has proved that this technique is capable of recovering 52 ± 8% and 80 ± 6% of few layer graphene (FLG) and graphene oxide (GO) from dried biomass, respectively. Therefore, this technique can be applied to the extraction of graphene from complex organic matrices used in nanotoxicological studies.


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

Quantification of graphene and graphene oxide in complex organic matrices
Kyle Doudrick, Takayuki Nosaka, Pierre Herckes, Paul Westerhoff
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015,2, 60-67
DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00134F

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About the webwriter

Imali Mudunkotuwa is a Postdoctoral Scholar and Research Assistant at The University of Iowa. She is interested in nanoscience, physical and surface chemistry. You can find more articles by Imali in her author archive .

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* Access is free through a registered RSC account

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Introducing Advisory Board Member, Vincent Hackley

We are delighted to introduce Vincent Hackley as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Vincent Hackley
Dr. Hackley is a Project Leader of the Materials Measurement Science Division at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Vince’s exciting research is focused on development of methods, protocols, and standards related to the metrology of nanoscale materials and the assessment of their transformations and fate in biological and environmental systems.

He is active in a broad range of nanomaterial science & technology related efforts, including development of reference materials, international standards, environmental implications, biomedical applications, development of novel analytical techniques, and application of optical, x-ray and neutron scattering methods to materials characterisation problems.

His project team has tackled a substantial range of metrologically challenging issues relevant to key areas of nanotechnology, including nano-enabled consumer products, nanomedicine, nanotoxicology and nanomanufacturing. Specific challenges include quantifying surface-bound functional and bioactive ligands, competitive ligand adsorption, size-dependent elemental analysis, fractionation of complex multi-component systems, photo- and redox induced transformations of silver nanoparticles, and dimensional metrology for asymmetric nano-objects, among others.

Vince’s research:

We conduct research on the development of innovative metrologies and measurement protocols for micro/nano-scale heterosystems analysis.

Vincent Hackley, Advisory Board Member, Environmental Science: Nano

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Nano-apples, nano-oranges and a combination of both

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

When friends and family ask me questions about the safety of nanotechnology, what follows is a conversation more or less like this:

Family member: “Are nanomaterials toxic by nature?”

Me: “It depends, nanomaterials can behave very differently from one another.”

Family member: So, should I avoid products that have nanoparticles?”

Me:Maybe. It depends on the type of nanomaterial, and how you will use the product.

Family member: “But, will or will they not hurt me?”

Me: “Maybe. We don’t have a final answer to that yet, because there might be long-term effects that vary tremendously according to the nanomaterial’s composition, size, shape, and other attributes; like comparing apples and oranges.”

Nanoapples and nanooranges

Did you sense a theme in this conversation? Yes, there is a lot of unhelpful uncertainty. But that is why researchers continue to work on understanding the possible effects of nanomaterials to human health and the environment, while concurrently developing novel applications for this great technology.

In a recently published ESN paper, Dr. Navid Saleh and his colleagues explore the topic of nanohybrids and their relevance to environmental health and safety (EHS).

A nanohybrid is commonly defined as a coupling of two or more types of nanomaterials that (1) integrate the unique properties of each nanomaterial to (2) create novel or enhanced properties, usually caused by the interaction between these nanomaterials. Moreover, combining two or more nanomaterials may result in (3) a novel material that has different physical dimensions in terms of their nano-ness (for example, from being “nano-thin” and “nano-long” to being “nano-structured”).

A good example of a nanohybrid is a combination of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes, which allow the TiO2 to be activated as a photocatalyst by visible light. Usually, the photocatalytic properties of TiO2 can only be activated by UV light.

Saleh and coleaguesIf nanohybrids have distinct properties from the nanomaterials that originated them, it is fair to wonder about their potential impacts to environmental health and safety (EHS). Can we safely add the known risks of these nano apples and oranges, when we know that the combination of both may generate novel properties?

This perspective paper by Saleh and colleagues proposes a strategy for tackling this complex issue. Hopefuly the nano-EHS community can use this information as a tool to narrow down the plethora of nanohybrid scenarios to focus on those most likely to pose a risk to health and the environment.


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

Research strategy to determine when novel nanohybrids pose unique environmental risks
Navid B. Saleh, Nirupam Aich, Jaime Plazas-Tuttle, Jamie R. Lead and Gregory V. Lowry
Environ. Sci.: Nano
, 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/c4en00104d


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About the webwriter

Marina is a PhD research scientist at Virginia Tech and Assoc. Director of @VTSuN. She is interested in air quality, nanotechnology and human health. You can find more information about her in her website mevance.com.

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* Access is free through a registered RSC account

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Environmental Science: Nano

The benefits of publishing with us

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

- Free colour on all figures

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Submit now!

*ES: Nano was launched in 2014. Access is free through a registered RSC Publishing account.

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Introducing Advisory Board Member, Greg Goss

We are delighted to introduce Greg Goss as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Greg G. Goss
Professor Goss is Research Director of the Office of Environmental Nanosafety at the University of Alberta and works jointly with industry and the National Institute of Nanotechnology on research projects to develop new materials for environmental clean technologies. He is also the Executive Director of the newly forming University of Alberta Water Initiative, providing innovative solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s water problems.

The Goss lab has two primary research interests: comparative physiology and aquatic toxicology. His research focuses on the genomic and proteomic responses of zebrafish to environmental toxins and the development of the zebrafish as a model for use in toxicology.

Greg’s research covers the areas of toxicology and toxigenomics, using a combination of approaches to understanding the mechanism of toxicity of these compounds including advanced microscopy, proteomics and genomics, cellular and whole animal physiology.

Greg’s philosophy:

My research philosophy is to encourage students to learn and research in areas that they find interesting.

Greg G. Goss, Advisory 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-alerts.

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Introducing Advisory Board Member, Kenneth A. Dawson

We are delighted to introduce Kenneth A. Dawson as an Advisory Board Member for our journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Kenneth A. Dawson
Kenneth is the Director of the Centre for BioNano Interactions and a lead investigator of the bionanoscience activities in University College Dublin, and Chair of Physical Chemistry.

Professor Dawson’s research interests are focused on the interactions between living systems and nanoparticles. Through the combination of physical chemical approaches with state of the art biological technologies, Prof. Dawson’s research is framing and developing quantitative bionanoscience. Good proof of this fact is one of his projects, aimed to developing a kinetic model of nanoparticle uptake by cells.

Other research interests are protein-nanoparticle interactions, new responsive and smart delivery nanoparticles, or the development of a framework for understanding relationship between gene expression profiles and cancer onset.

Kenneth’s goal:

The long-term goal of my research is the development of a rational framework to understand the interactions of nanoparticles with living systems.

Kenneth A. Dawson, Advisory 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-alerts.

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