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Nanoparticles in the Environment: Short Course Summary

Did you know that silver nanoparticles in your socks can help reduce pesky odours? Or that carbon nanotubes help to make stronger planes, trains and automobiles? Dr. Stephen Klaine discussed the many uses of nanoparticles and nanomaterials and shared the latest related science in a well-attended short course held at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment facilities in Toronto on 7 November 2013. Dr. Klaine provided an engaging technical presentation stemming from his experience with nanoparticles as a professor and the Director of the Institute of Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University, a board member for SETAC North America and associate editor for the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, a member of the editorial board of the journal Nanotoxicology, and as a member of the U.S. National Research Council panel to review the National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategy on Environmental and Human Safety Needs for Nanomaterials. Dr. Klaine discussed the environmental fate and deposition of nanoparticles, the consequences of the interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems, and the effects of nanoparticles on aquatic organisms, with emphasis on carbon, silver, and gold nanoparticles. We learned that nanoparticles, although used in various applications, have been difficult to characterize due to their unique structures and behaviour. Although this has led to challenges in quantifying the toxicity of nanoparticles, research suggests that nanotoxicity remains physical rather than chemical. We also learned that nanoparticles tend to aggregate in aquatic systems where their stabilization can be influenced by environmental parameters such as pH and organic matter. The short course concluded with several interesting case studies and a discussion highlighting that more research is needed related to the quantification, chronic exposure, and trophic transfer of nanoparticles. For more information, please contact Steve Klaine, Clemson University: sklaine@clemson.edu –Submitted by Joel Nichols

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