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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Feb 15;44(4):1307-12. doi: 10.1021/es9032265.

Synchrotron speciation of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles aged in a kaolin suspension.

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  • 1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Assessments of the environmental fate and mobility of nanoparticles must consider the behavior of nanoparticles in relevant environmental systems that may result in speciation changes over time. Environmental conditions may act on nanoparticles to change their size, shape, and surface chemistry. Changing these basic characteristics of nanoparticles may result in a final reaction product that is significantly different than the initial nanomaterial. As such, basing long-term risk and toxicity on the initial properties of a nanomaterial may lead to erroneous conclusions if nanoparticles change upon release to the environment. The influence of aging on the speciation and chemical stability of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles in kaolin suspensions was examined in batch reactors for up to 18 months. Silver nanoparticles remained unchanged in sodium nitrate suspensions; however, silver chloride was identified with the metallic silver nanoparticles in sodium chloride suspensions and may be attributed to an in situ silver chloride surface coating. Zinc oxide nanoparticles were rapidly converted via destabilization/dissolution mechanisms to Zn(2+) inner-sphere sorption complexes within 1 day of reaction and these sorption complexes were maintained through the 12 month aging processes. Chemical and physical alteration of nanomaterials in the environment must be examined to understand fate, mobility, and toxicology.

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