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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Dec 15;43(24):9216-22. doi: 10.1021/es9015553.

Modeled environmental concentrations of engineered nanomaterials (TiO(2), ZnO, Ag, CNT, Fullerenes) for different regions.

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Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, Technology and Society Laboratory, CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.


Engineered nanomaterials (ENM) are already used in many products and consequently released into environmental compartments. In this study, we calculated predicted environmental concentrations (PEC) based on a probabilistic material flow analysis from a life-cycle perspective of ENM-containing products. We modeled nano-TiO(2), nano-ZnO, nano-Ag, carbon nanotubes (CNT), and fullerenes for the U.S., Europe and Switzerland. The environmental concentrations were calculated as probabilistic density functions and were compared to data from ecotoxicological studies. The simulated modes (most frequent values) range from 0.003 ng L(-1) (fullerenes) to 21 ng L(-1) (nano-TiO(2)) for surface waters and from 4 ng L(-1) (fullerenes) to 4 microg L(-1) (nano-TiO(2)) for sewage treatment effluents. For Europe and the U.S., the annual increase of ENMs on sludge-treated soil ranges from 1 ng kg(-1) for fullerenes to 89 microg kg(-1) for nano-TiO(2). The results of this study indicate that risks to aquatic organisms may currently emanate from nano-Ag, nano-TiO(2), and nano-ZnO in sewage treatment effluents for all considered regions and for nano-Ag in surface waters. For the other environmental compartments for which ecotoxicological data were available, no risks to organisms are presently expected.

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