Fate and behavior of inorganic nanomaterials in the environment; the role of environmental transformations

J. Lead
University of South Carolina,
United States

Keywords: EHS, nanomaterials, ecological impact


Given the large and increasing development and use of nanomaterials in consumer products and industrial processes, the environment is likely receiving sufficient nanomaterials to cause a potentially significant risk to the environmental and ecological health. The transport, sinks and the timescales of behavior in the environment are poorly understood and quantified. However, once in complex environmental systems, it is known that the as-discharged nanomaterials undergo substantive changes from their original nature, with impacts on their environmental fate and impacts. For instance, aggregation of charge stabilized nanomaterials can occur in high ionic strength waters, but this is minimized by the formation of ecocoronas from the sorption of natural organic macromolecules, analogously to protein coronas. Sterically stabilized nanomaterials will also be less prone to aggregation. Dissolution frequently occurs and the dissolution may dominate toxicity. Other changes such as microbially-mediated changes and sulfidation are likely to occur. This talk will discuss known transformation behavior and the subsequent behavior of nanomaterials. The related impacts on toxicological exposures and the fundamental need for characterization are discussed.