In January, we present a paper published in the Nature Journal communications materials. The article focuses on the development of a new detection method of nanopolystyrene. The method not only makes it possible to detect nanoplastics in the environment for the first time, but also to determine their accumulation in plants and animals.
Nanoplastics, which are added to numerous commercial products or are created by further breaking down microplastics, pose a major threat to our environment. Detection in the environment is difficult for two reasons. First, the small size makes it difficult to detect the particles in the environment. Second, the concentrations are very low. However, tracking nanoparticles is essential to understand potential effects on plants and animals. The team led by Maya Al-Sid-Cheikh has succeeded in improving the detection of nanoplastics by using a special label. To do this, they used a special form of carbon, called 14C, which does not occur naturally. Unlike other labels, e.g. fluorescent dyes, this label cannot be lost, e.g. by fading. By using such 14C-labeled polystyrene particles, the uptake and distribution of nanoplastics in mussels could be tracked for the first time. The 14C-labeled nanopolystyrene could be detected even in very low concentrations, which also allows detection in the environment, e.g. lakes or rivers. The method can be used to better understand the distribution of nanoplastics in the environment and in organisms by means of laboratory experiments. However, it does not allow direct measurement of nanoplastics in the environment because they do not carry the label. As the authors also critically note, it is possible that labeled particles and naturally occurring particles behave differently.
Al-Sid-Cheikh, M., Rowland, S.J., Kaegi, R. et al. Synthesis of 14C-labelled polystyrene nanoplastics for environmental studies. Commun Mater 1, 97 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43246-020-00097-9
Spotlight May 2022: Nano-ghosts” – Risk assessment of submicron-sized particles in food biased towards fictional “nano”
The European Commission has issued a ban on the colorant titanium dioxide in food. Titanium dioxide, which provides a nice shine and bright white color, can potentially damage genetic material. We chose a review article from 2022 for the May 2022 Spotlight that addresses the risk assessment of food-grade titanium dioxide (E171) and the resulting […]Read more
Spotlight August 2022: Three-stage model for the formation of micro- and nanoplastic particles.
Plastic pollution is a global problem that will continue to affect humanity for more than 100 years. There is the visible pollution, e.g. plastic debris in the environment, which leads to death for many animals (because they mistakenly think the plastic is food and eat it or because they get caught in the plastic waste). […]Read more
Spotlight March 2021: Is Nanotechnology the Swiss Army Knife against Future Pandemics?
The COVID 19 outbreak has led to a fundamental rethinking of existing approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention methods. The need for better and more efficient concepts is global and urgent. Nanotechnology has long been at the forefront of innovation and has led to advances in many different disciplines. Could this interdisciplinary field help develop […]Read more
Spotlight September 2020: Groundwater remediation with Carbo-Iron® – Risk or Benefit?
In September we would like to present a paper of the BMBF project Fe-Nanosit. The project dealt with the use of iron-containing nanomaterials in groundwater and wastewater remediation. A comprehensive assessment and weighing of benefits and possible environmental risks resulting from the application is now presented by the project partners in this paper. Groundwater is indispensable for the […]Read more