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J Environ Qual. 2010 Nov-Dec;39(6):1867-74.

Environmental occurrences, behavior, fate, and ecological effects of nanomaterials: an introduction to the special series.

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  • 1Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890, USA.


The release of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) into the biosphere will increase as industries find new and useful ways to utilize these materials. Scientists and engineers are beginning to assess the material properties that determine the fate, transport, and effects of ENMs; however, the potential impacts of released ENMs on organisms, ecosystems, and human health remain largely unknown. This special collection of four review papers and four technical papers identifies many key and emerging knowledge gaps regarding the interactions between nanomaterials and ecosystems. These critical knowledge gaps include the form, route, and mass of nanomaterials entering the environment; the transformations and ultimate fate of nanomaterials in the environment; the transport, distribution, and bioavailability of nanomaterials in environmental media; and the organismal responses to nanomaterial exposure and effects of nanomaterial inputs, on ecological communities and biogeochemical processes at relevant environmental concentrations and forms. This introductory section summarizes the state of knowledge and emerging areas of research needs identified within the special collection. Despite recent progress in understanding the transport, transformations, and fate of ENMs in model environments and organisms, there remains a large need for fundamental information regarding releases, distribution, transformations and persistence, and bioavailability of nanomaterials. Moreover, fate, transport, bioaccumulation, and ecological impacts research is needed using environmentally relevant concentrations and forms of ENMs in real field materials and with a broader range of organisms.

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