State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008IN251B
Title: Environmental Implications of Manufactured Nanomaterial: Nanosilver
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 4
Focus Categories: Groundwater
Keywords: Soil, Groundwater, Manufactured nanomaterials: Nanosilver, Ecological risk, Indicators, Environmental microbiology
Principal Investigator: Turco, Ron F.
Federal Funds: $ 25,578
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 13,428
Abstract: The use of nanotechnology has tremendous potential to enable economic growth and is a key feature of sustainable development. Despite the impending increase in industrial production, and the certain releases nanosilver (NAg) to the environment, scientists and policy makers remain mostly uninformed about their environmental impact. In order to engage in a publicly transparent evaluation of risks and benefits, and to develop public policy and technology to manage potential risks, fundamental scientific research must be completed. The goal of this proposal is to provide information about the impact NAg on soil systems. This seed project is developed around the following hypothesis: In soils with low organic matter, exposure to nanosilver (NAg) will cause a dramatic collapse in metabolic abilities and the diversity of soil microbial populations (i.e., Bacteria, Archaea, or Eukarya). We also propose that in higher organic matter soils the response will be less obvious but that the implications to diversity of the soil system will be detectable and significant. The implications of this collapse are tremendous as the soil biology is critical in controlling the environmental fate of many other chemicals. A lowered degradation ability will lessens the soils capacity to respond to other perturbations and increase the opportunity for materials to leach to ground water, for example. The project is based around a series of laboratory studies. Our recent work has shown that insoluble forms of fullerene have little impact on microbial community structure or functions. Our group has a solid foundation of experience working with nanomaterials in soil and sludge systems. This proposed research program will bring new approaches and scientific data that will improve environmental assessment and policy making for a nascent industrial revolution and potential ecological problem. The application of modern microbiology and biotechnology to environmental assessment can have broad societal and economic impacts. This project will improve the science applied to environmental assessment. The high quality data obtained from this research should positively influence regulatory oversight of the nanomaterial industry and facilitate responsible economic development.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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