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Current status and future direction for examining engineered nanoparticles in natural systems

Manuel D. Montaño A F , Gregory V. Lowry B C , Frank von der Kammer D , Julie Blue E and James F. Ranville A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Colorado School of Mines, Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry, 1012 14th Street, Golden, CO 80401, USA.

B Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.

C Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, 1201 Hamburg Hall, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.

D University of Vienna, Department of Environmental Geosciences, Althanstrasse 14 UZAII, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.

E The Cadmus Group, Inc., 100 Fifth Avenue, Suite 100, Waltham, MA 02451-8727, USA.

F Corresponding author. Email: jranvill@mines.edu




Manuel D. Montaño is a graduate student at the Colorado School of Mines earning a Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry. His current work focuses on developing techniques and methodology for the detection and characterisation of engineered nanomaterials in environmental samples, in particular utilising single particle inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for analysis of ENPs in complex matrices. His previous work has included the examination of phytoremediation of heavy metals in wetland systems affected by acid mine drainage, heteroaggregation of engineered nanomaterials with naturally occurring nanoparticles and the development of single particle ICP-MS using microsecond dwell times for the purpose of environmental analysis of engineered nanomaterials.



Dr Gregory V. Lowry is a Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. He is also Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT). His research and teaching focuses on environmental chemistry and nanotechnology, organic and inorganic aqueous geochemistry, and subsurface processes affecting ground water quality. Dr Lowry's professional interests include: aquatic chemistry, fate and transport of chemicals in surface and subsurface waters, soil and sediment treatment, groundwater remediation, carbon sequestration and environmental issues related to fossil energy. He has published over 90 scientific articles in leading environmental engineering and science journals and 10 related book chapters. He is an associate editor of Environmental Science: Nano (a Royal Society of Chemistry journal) and is currently editing a book on nanoscale iron particles for groundwater remediation.



Dr Frank von der Kammer completed his Ph.D. in 2005 with highest honour at Hamburg University of Technology, in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology. He is currently senior scientist and lecturer, the Head of Nanogeosciences Division and Vice Head of the Department for Environmental Geosciences at the University of Vienna. In the past, Frank has acted as a visiting Professor at the University of Pau and at the University of Aix-Marseille, France. His research interests include environmental colloids, their dynamic behaviour and interaction with trace elements, natural nanoscale processes, nanoparticle characterisation, engineered nanoparticles in the environment and the application of field flow fractionation to characterise nanoparticles in complex samples. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers within both nano research and nanoparticle characterisation.



Dr Julie Blue is Director of Environmental Research at the Cadmus Group, Inc. She has 22 years of experience in environmental research and hydrology, with expertise in groundwater, surface water, drinking water and wastewater. She applies her technical skills in areas such as endocrine-disrupting compounds, emerging wastes and climate change. She leads Cadmus' work on the effects of climate change on water resources. Her expertise includes data analysis and mathematical modelling of contaminant transport. With an M.A. in English, an M.Sc. in Earth Sciences and a Ph.D. in Hydrology, Dr Blue has written extensively for numerous documents in the areas of source water protection, water quality and climate change and water resources.



Dr James F. Ranville is a Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines. His research interests include environmental colloids, bioavailability and toxicity of trace metals and environmental nanometrology, specifically the development and the application of inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry and field flow fractionation to characterise nanoparticles in complex samples. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers on the topics of aqueous geochemistry, nanoparticle research, and aquatic toxicology.

Environmental Chemistry 11(4) 351-366 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN14037
Submitted: 19 February 2014  Accepted: 7 May 2014   Published: 28 July 2014

Environmental context. The detection and characterisation of engineered nanomaterials in the environment is essential for exposure and risk assessment for this emerging class of materials. However, the ubiquitous presence of naturally occurring nanomaterials presents a unique challenge for the accurate determination of engineered nanomaterials in environmental matrices. New techniques and methodologies are being developed to overcome some of these issues by taking advantage of subtle differences in the elemental and isotopic ratios within these nanomaterials.

Abstract. The increasing manufacture and implementation of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) will continue to lead to the release of these materials into the environment. Reliably assessing the environmental exposure risk of ENMs will depend highly on the ability to quantify and characterise these materials in environmental samples. However, performing these measurements is obstructed by the complexity of environmental sample matrices, physiochemical processes altering the state of the ENM and the high background of naturally occurring nanoparticles (NNPs), which may be similar in size, shape and composition to their engineered analogues. Current analytical techniques can be implemented to overcome some of these obstacles, but the ubiquity of NNPs presents a unique challenge requiring the exploitation of properties that discriminate engineered and natural nanomaterials. To this end, new techniques are being developed that take advantage of the nature of ENMs to discern them from naturally occurring analogues. This paper reviews the current techniques utilised in the detection and characterisation of ENMs in environmental samples as well as discusses promising new approaches to overcome the high backgrounds of NNPs. Despite their occurrence in the atmosphere and soil, this review will be limited to a discussion of aqueous-based samples containing ENMs, as this environment will serve as a principal medium for the environmental dispersion of ENMs.


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