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Nanotoxicology and Nanopollution - BojanaL - 10-07-2012

Nanotoxicology is scientific discipline that investigates toxicity of nanoparticles and nanoderivates that could have negative impact on environment and living creatures. It’s basically safety assessment of nanotechnology.

Application of nanotechnology is incredible and it can be seen everywhere you look: from vehicle fuels, sun creams, medications, flat screens, batteries up to agriculture. However, safety assessment of nanoparticles showed that effect they have on the planet isn’t always positive.

Average size of nanoparticle is between 1-100 nm. Physical effects and biological activity of those small particles are different compared with their larger counterparts. In other words, same chemical possesses different physical features and biological effects depending on the size of its particles. Quantum size effect and large surface area to volume ratio are “side” effects of resizing to the nano level. Quantum size effect is responsible for changes in mechanical, electric and optic behavior in nanomaterials. Large surface area to volume ratio increases chemical and biological reactivity of the particles. All nanomaterials are artificial and living organisms don't have natural protective mechanisms that could save them from possible deleterious effects of nanotech. What are the most negative effects of nanotechnology?

We are inhaling, ingesting or absorbing nanoparticles through the skin all the time. Our immune system couldn’t recognize and fight them easily due to their tinny size. After inhaled or swallowed, they are traveling to distant parts of our body and eventually end up in brain, liver, lungs and other vital organs. Once in the cell, nanoparticles induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. ROS are responsible for a lot of negative effects on the cellular level: oxidative stress, inflammation, DNA and protein damage….They will adsorb to macromolecules they encounter while traveling through the body, thanks to their large surface area. Normal biochemical processes will inevitably suffer if macromolecule is regulatory enzyme or protein. Some nanoparticles like carbon nanotubes have needle like shape and effect similar to that observed with asbestos (pleural abnormalities and mesothelioma are highly associated with this type of nanomaterial).

Medaka is see-through fish often used as a test organism because it’s small, has short life cycle and high tolerability to salinity and temperature changes. Fluorescent nanoparticles used in medaka nanotoxicity study showed that nanoparticles are mostly accumulated in vital organs, such as brain, liver, gills, intestine and testis. Yolk in the eggs also accumulated high amount of nanoparticles. Study showed that salinity may affect nanoparticles absorption.

Some other study showed that smaller organisms such as water flee couldn’t survive pollution with nanoparticles at all. By removing a species from its natural environment – food chain is seriously affected.

Nanopollution is term used to describe accumulation of nanotechnology products and waste created during nanotech manufacturing process. Nanopollution is still lacking necessary data to conclude overall impact this kind of technology will have on our environment. Much more money is spent on novel nanoproduct development than on ecological fate investigation (in 2002. 710 million dollars were spent on nanotechnology research and 500,000 dollars were spent on environmental impact assessment). What is known so far is that nanoparticles can be released both if they are in free or bound form. During manufacturing process (while they are still in free from) they could be released in the air or water. After releasing, they will travel longer of shorter distances before reaching final destination. When nanoparticles are integrated in already formed material, they could “escape” once material is disposed as waste or when recycling process start. In each case, nanoparticles will accumulate in the air, water or soil ecosystem and affect the living creatures in numerous ways.

Nanotechnology is highly applicable to agriculture. Like drug delivery systems that target exact cells in humans, farmers are using carbon nanotubes to deliver pesticides, fertilizers or some other chemical to the certain plant cells. Since nanoproducts used in agriculture could easily enter nearby ecological niches, quantification of the nanoparticles is necessary and highly recommended. Before microwave heating is invented, Raman spectrometry and electron microscopy was used to detect nanoparticles in the biological samples. Microwave heating technology is used for both detection and accurate measurement of their concentration in the sample. This is non-expensive and fast method, essential for nanotoxicology risk assessment that could provide all missing data and reveal all nanopollution associated problems.

With improved knowledge and more evidence, new regulative could be made and nanoparticles production could be drastically changed. So far, it’s all under investigation.

RE: Nanotoxicology and Nanopollution - bharatbuk - 11-24-2012

Nanotoxicology is the branch of bionanoscience which deals with the study and application of toxicity of nanomaterials which is known as nanotoxicology. Today,Nanotoxicological threats observed by most of the developed countries having special environmental committees of the experts to deals with nanopollutants risk to the environment and biodiversity.

RE: Nanotoxicology and Nanopollution - Constable - 07-30-2013

Something more that I found about that topic:

Using nanoparticles to remove pollutants and contaminants from wastewater. Nanostructures adsorb toxic ions from polluted water.

Nanoparticles are the good direction in a contamination removal process - as well as graphene (which is a carbon nano structure of graphite) might be worth to mention here (one of it's abilities is to unsalt the sea water - maybe it would be possible to use it for clearing the water from contaminations as well)