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 November 2020: Nanotechnology in the public perception
In November, we would like to draw your attention to a publication that examines public perception of the safety of nanomaterials in Austria.It shows, that although there is generally a rather positive attitude towards nanomaterials, there are different opinions on safety issues from different social groups. Further clarification seems necessary. Despite the widespread use of […]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
Spotlight Juli 2020: “Nanosafety – More than just regulatory processes”
Nanosafety is more than just a compulsory aspect of nanomaterials research and regulation. This research area also has great potential to drive new innovations. It is exactly this perspective that is addressed in the special issue “Rethinking Nanosafety: Harnessing Progress and Driving Innovation” by Chen et al. 2020. The article illustrates that especially in the field of […]Read more
Spotlight May 2021: Towards safe and sustainable innovation in nanotechnology: State-of-play for smart nanomaterials
The European Commission’s new Action Plan for a Circular Economy Green Deal, the new European Industrial Strategy as well as the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability presented in October 2020 are ambitious plans to achieve a sustainable, fair and inclusive economy in the European Union. These strategies require that any new material or product must not […]Read more