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Assessing the Fate of Silver Nanoparticles in Surface Water using Single Particle ICP-MS

Introduction

During the last decade, the production and use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) have experienced a drastic increase, resulting in a potential risk of their release into the environment. Therefore, the study of their impact on the environment becomes crucial. The appropriate ecological risk assessment and management of ENMs in the environment requires quantitative measurements of both exposure and effects1 that should, ideally, be performed by in situ analysis and give physicochemical characterization. However, most analytical techniques are not suitable for environmental matrices since nanoparticle concentrations are typically very low2.

Some studies on the persistence, aggregation and dissolution of metal nanoparticles in natural freshwaters and synthetic complex waters were recently published3-7. Historically, particle size has been measured by dispersive light scatter (DLS) and tunneling electron microscopy (TEM), while dissolved content has been measured by ultrafiltration. These common techniques have known limitations for measuring low concentrations in the presence of colloidal species in complex waters.

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