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Quantification and Characterization of Ti‑, Ce‑, and Ag-Nanoparticles in Global Surface Waters and Precipitation

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journal contribution
posted on 28.06.2021, 19:04 by Agil Azimzada, Ibrahim Jreije, Madjid Hadioui, Phil Shaw, Jeffrey M. Farner, Kevin J. Wilkinson
Nanoparticle (NP) emissions to the environment are increasing as a result of anthropogenic activities, prompting concerns for ecosystems and human health. In order to evaluate the risk of NPs, it is necessary to know their concentrations in various environmental compartments on regional and global scales; however, these data have remained largely elusive due to the analytical difficulties of measuring NPs in complex natural matrices. Here, we measure NP concentrations and sizes for Ti-, Ce-, and Ag-containing NPs in numerous global surface waters and precipitation samples, and we provide insights into their compositions and origins (natural or anthropogenic). The results link NP occurrences and distributions to particle type, origin, and sampling location. Based on measurements from 46 sites across 13 countries, total Ti- and Ce-NP concentrations (regardless of origin) were often found to be within 104 to 107 NP mL–1, whereas Ag NPs exhibited sporadic occurrences with low concentrations generally up to 105 NP mL–1. This generally corresponded to mass concentrations of <1 ng L–1 for Ag-NPs, <100 ng L–1 for Ce-NPs, and <10 μg L–1 for Ti-NPs, given that measured sizes were often below 15 nm for Ce- and Ag-NPs and above 30 nm for Ti-NPs. In view of current toxicological data, the observed NP levels do not yet appear to exceed toxicity thresholds for the environment or human health; however, NPs of likely anthropogenic origins appear to be already substantial in certain areas, such as urban centers. This work lays the foundation for broader experimental NP surveys, which will be critical for reliable NP risk assessments and the regulation of nano-enabled products.