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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Examines Dispersion of Natural Nanomaterials in Surface Waters

Researchers from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health’s Environmental Health Sciences Department and the South Carolina SmartState Center for Environmental Nanoscience and Risk have completed a study on the dispersion of natural nanomaterials in surface waters. The resulting paper was published in The Science of the Total Environment.

Characterization and understanding of natural nanomaterials (NNMs) properties is essential to differentiate engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) from NNMs. However, NNMs in environmental samples typically occur as heteroaggregates with other particles, e.g., NNMs, ENMs, and larger particles.

Therefore, there is a need to isolate NNMs into their primary particles to better characterize their physicochemical properties. With this study, the researchers evaluated the efficiency of sodium hydroxide, sodium oxalate, and sodium pyrophosphate to extract NNMs from surface waters. The extracted NNMs were characterized for total metal concentration by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry following full digestion; size distribution, elemental composition and ratios by flow-field flow fractionation; and morphology by transmission electron microscopy.

The researchers found that sodium pyrophosphate extraction resulted in the highest NNM concentration and the smallest NNM size distribution. Sodium hydroxide and sodium oxalate extraction generated heteroaggregates with a broad size distribution.

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