UK Nanoparticle Researchers reveal first evidence of biomagnification of manufactured particles

A recently published article by TFISE affiliated scientists provides the first evidence that manufactured nanoparticles can concentrate up the food chain, a phenomenon known as biomagnifications in terrestrial ecosystems. The paper first authored by Jonathan Judy, a Ph.D. student in the department of plant and soil sciences and published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology on December 3, 2010 provided direct evidence that gold nanoparticles taken up by plants were more highly concentrated, between 6 and 12 times, in the caterpillars that ate the plants. This study was closely followed by another study from a group at the Univ. California-Santa Barbara just weeks later that also provides strong evidence for biomagnifications of a different nanomaterial, CdSe quantum dots, in a simple aquatic food chain. Both studies are attracting a good deal of attention (Nanoparticles in Sewage Sludge May End Up in the Food Chain, Wired Science | 01.05.2011 Nanoparticles build up, Royal Society of Chemistry | 01.05.2011 Nanoparticles Accumulate In The Food Chain Chemical & Engineering News | 12.14.2010) since contaminants that can biomagnify, such as DDT or mercury, are considered especially hazardous and can also eventually enter the human food chain resulting in exposure. A poster based on the paper was a winner for best student poster at the TFISE annual event this past September. The two faculty members on the study, Jason Unrine and Paul Bertsch, are members of the Nanotechnology Heath and Safety working group at the TFISE.

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