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Nanoparticle Release from Polymer Nanocomposites Used for Potable Water Infrastructure and Food Packaging: Current Progress & Beyond (invited presentation)

A.J. Whelton, T.V. Duncan, J.L. Koontz, T. Nguyen
University of South Alabama, US

Keywords: infrastructure, packaging, leaching, migration, release, health and safety, water


Engineered nanoparticles (ENP) are increasingly being integrated into polymeric infrastructure and food packaging materials worldwide. ENPs can improve product strength, extend infrastructure service life, and increase a polymer’s antimicrobial resistance and oxygen barrier properties. While the types of polymers used for civil engineering and food science applications are quite similar (e.g., PE, PVC, PP), these industries also share a common technology obstruction: environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns regarding long-term ENP release into drinking water [civil engineering] and foods [food science] have not been elucidated. Absence of this information prevents responsible wide-scale commercialization of innovative nano-enhanced products, development of predictive health risk models, and generation of science-based EHS focused regulation. Nanotech 2011’s industrial, academic, and regulatory audience would be well-served by our presentation which will provide a State-of-the-Science assessment regarding ENP release from polymeric materials intended for water/civil and food contact applications. Specifically, we will: (1) describe nanomaterials already integrated into polymers for potable water infrastructure as well as food contact applications, (2) outline the fundamental polymer properties and environmental conditions that control additive migration from polymer matrices and how they could also influence ENP release, (3) summarize laboratory results and deficiencies pertaining to ENP release measurement, and (4) outline future research needs and methods necessary to elucidate EHS concerns for polymeric-water and food applications. Results of this presentation will also be educational for other industries (e.g., medical devices and apparel) as polymers used in these industries are similar to those of the civil engineering and food industries.
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