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Detection of manufactured nanomaterials in complex environmental compartments – An expert review
Manufactured nanomaterials (NMs) are materials in which 50% or more of the particles have one or more dimensions between 1 nm and 100 nm. These NMs show interesting properties. However, the same properties that motivate their use in applications are also reason for concern, as NMs can cause toxic reactions and have mobilities in the environment different from bulk materials of the same elements. Despite considerable scientific efforts, the selective detection of manufactured NMs in environmental compartments is still a very complex and challenging task. An expert review of the literature has been conducted to identify relevant methods for nanomaterial detection in complex media in the context of environmental monitoring and a need for action was concluded from the existing body of work.
A literature review was performed using predominantly “Web of Science”. More than 150 scientific publications which themselves refer to more than 10000 sources were evaluated concerning nanoparticle detection methods. The techniques identified through the literature review were evaluated for their capability to detect the relevant NM-related properties such as size, concentration, com- position, shape, etc. of arbitrary NMs in environmental samples.
Evaluating the relevant literature quickly led to the conclusion that while some detection methods will lend themselves more easily towards detection of NMs in a specific environmental compartment, there is no strictly compartment specific method. NMs can be detected with any of the different methods after application of suitable sample preparation techniques. Consequently, a generalized method for NM detection in environmental samples would consist of standardized sampling procedures followed by an extraction step that serves to largely remove the complex matrix followed by a size fractionation step which would then lead into a multi-method analysis depending on the desired information depth.
The need for action for the establishment of routine environmental monitoring of manufactured NMs is thus the development, validation and coupling of suitable extraction, pre-sorting and if necessary pre- concentration procedures, as well, as analysis techniques. One promising combined approach would consist of: CPE, AF4, MALS and sp-ICP-TOF-MS.
Keywords: nanoparticles; detection; environmental compartments
Nanosafe 2020, 16.-20.11.2020, Grenoble, France