Jan 11, 2017
(with audio) Nanomaterial life-cycle studies – what comes out in the wash
While the environmental impact of nanomaterials is a topic of long-standing interest, so far most studies have considered nanomaterials in their pristine state. In reality most nanomaterials undergo a number of changes before they are finally released into the environment. nanotechweb.org talks to Denise Mitrano about some of the latest work summarised in the Nanotechnology topical review, which takes into account the changes these nanomaterials undergo throughout their life-times.
Assessing the risks of manufactured nanomaterials (MNM) has been almost exclusively focused on the pristine, as produced materials with far fewer studies delving into more complex, real world scenarios. However, when considering a life-cycle perspective, it is clear that MNM released from commercial products during manufacturing, use and disposal are far more relevant both in terms of more realistic environmental fate and transport as well as environmental risk. The quantity in which the particles are released and their (altered) physical and chemical form should be identified and it is these metrics that should be used to assess the exposure and hazard the materials pose. The goal of this review is to 1) provide a rationale for using a life-cycle based approach when dealing with MNM transformations, 2) to elucidate the different chemical and physical forces which age and transform MNMs and 3) assess the pros and cons of current analytical techniques as they pertain to the measurement of aged and transformed MNM in these complex release scenarios. Specifically, we will describe the possible transformations common MNMs may undergo during the use or disposal of nano-products based on how these products will be used by the consumer by taking stock of the current nano-enabled products on the market. Understanding the impact of these transformations may help forecast the benefits and/or risks associated with the use of products containing MNM.
Full article at:
Mitrano M and Nowack B The need for a life-cycle based aging paradigm for nanomaterials: Importance of real-world test systems to identify realistic particle transformations 2016 Nanotechnology 28 072001.
For more on the life cycle of nano materials, visit the Nanotechnology focus collection.
About the author
Denise Mitrano completed her PhD in Geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines in 2012. She has since been working in the Environmental Risk Assessment and Management Group at Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. Her research focuses on characterization of nanomaterials through product relevant aging and transformations; determining the probability/concentration/characterization of nanoparticle release from nano-enhanced products and materials; the fabrication of nano-enhanced textiles; investigating nanoparticle dissolution and surface transformation(s) related to aging. (e.g. light exposure, washing, landfill, etc); building knowledge and experience using a suite of analytical techniques capable of characterizing nanomaterials and/or other trace metals analysis; and putting new technologies into a broader context.