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Review article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Nanoparticles in the environment: where do we come from, where do we go to?

Bundschuh, Mirco; Filser, Juliane; Luderwald, Simon; Mckee, Moira S.; Metreveli, George; Schaumann, Gabriele E.; Schulz, Ralf; Wagner, Stephan


Nanoparticles serve various industrial and domestic purposes which is reflected in their steadily increasing production volume. This economic success comes along with their presence in the environment and the risk of potentially adverse effects in natural systems. Over the last decade, substantial progress regarding the understanding of sources, fate, and effects of nanoparticles has been made. Predictions of environmental concentrations based on modelling approaches could recently be confirmed by measured concentrations in the field. Nonetheless, analytical techniques are, as covered elsewhere, still under development to more efficiently and reliably characterize and quantify nanoparticles, as well as to detect them in complex environmental matrixes. Simultaneously, the effects of nanoparticles on aquatic and terrestrial systems have received increasing attention. While the debate on the relevance of nanoparticle-released metal ions for their toxicity is still ongoing, it is a re-occurring phenomenon that inert nanoparticles are able to interact with biota through physical pathways such as biological surface coating. This among others interferes with the growth and behaviour of exposed organisms. Moreover, co-occurring contaminants interact with nanoparticles. There is multiple evidence suggesting nanoparticles as a sink for organic and inorganic co-contaminants. On the other hand, in the presence of nanoparticles, repeatedly an elevated effect on the test species induced by the co-contaminants has been reported. In this paper, we highlight recent achievements in the field of nano-ecotoxicology in both aquatic and terrestrial systems but also refer to substantial gaps that require further attention in the future.


Nanomaterials; Co-contaminants; Environmental parameters; Review; Fate

Published in

Environmental Sciences Europe
2018, Volume: 30, article number: 6

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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