State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009OR113B
Title: Synthesis of Traceable Nanoparticles for Studying the Fate and Transport of Engineered Nanomaterials in Aquatic Systems
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 5th
Focus Categories: Methods, Toxic Substances, Water Supply
Keywords: nanomaterials, nanoparticles, fate, transport, water quality, water treatment
Principal Investigator: Nason, Jeff
Federal Funds: $ 9,926
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 26,066
Abstract: Engineered nanomaterials hold great promise for technological innovation due to unique properties that emerge at the nanoscale. As a result, nanomaterials are increasingly being incorporated into consumer products ranging from electronics to cosmetics, and are being evaluated for novel drug delivery and treatment of contaminated water. Unfortunately, the boom in nanoscience and nanotechnology research has not been paralleled with an equal effort investigating the environmental implications of nanomaterials. Concerns about the environmental health and safety aspects of nanomaterials are global; production, distribution, use and disposal of nanoparticles will undoubtedly result in their release into the environment, including the surface water and groundwater of Oregon. Yet, little is known about the prevalence, behavior and risks of nanomaterials in the environment.

At present, very few analytical techniques are capable of unambiguously identifying and characterizing nanomaterials in environmental matrices. As such, investigations into the fate and transport of nanomaterials have been limited to simplified systems that do not accurately reflect true environmental conditions. This work aims to bridge this current gap in understanding by:

We propose to synthesize nanoparticles (titanium dioxide in this preliminary work) that are doped with small quantities of rare-earth elements. By "labeling" these nanoparticles, they can be used in laboratory and field studies to examine nanoparticle fate, transport and toxicity. Using prompt-gamma ray activation analysis, the detection and quantification of the dopants (which are present in extremely small concentrations in the environment) can be related to the nanoparticle concentration in a sample. Upon development and testing of the method, we will utilize the doped nanoparticles in bench-scale experiments investigating 1) the association of nanoparticles with naturally occurring particulate matter and 2) the removal of nanoparticles from surface water during conventional drinking water treatment.

It is our expressed intention to leverage the preliminary data collected during the project to secure external research funds for continued research in this area. We have identified several funding opportunities and the potential exists for a substantial return on this initial investment in terms of student training, seeding of collaborative relationships, and knowledge development that will help protect Oregon's water resources. The requested funds will support a graduate student and pay for experimental costs associated with this preliminary work. In addition, this work will serve as a springboard for the PIs to begin research in an important field that is likely to be active and pertinent to the State of Oregon well into the future.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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