Challenges in Exposure Modeling of Nanoparticles in Aquatic Environments
Journal article, 2011
Managing the potential environmental risks of nanoparticles requires methods to link nanoparticle properties with macro-scale risks. This study outlines challenges in exposure modeling of nanoparticles in aquatic environments, such as the role of natural organic matter, natural colloids, fractal dimensions of agglomerates, coatings and doping of particles, and uncertainties regarding nanoparticle emissions to aquatic environments. The pros and cons of the exposure indicators mass concentration, particle number concentration, and surface area are discussed. By applying colloid chemistry kinetic equations describing particle agglomeration and sedimentation for the case of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, a limited exposure assessment including some of the factors mentioned is conducted with particle number concentration as the exposure indicator. The results of the modeling indicate that sedimentation, shear flows, and settling are of less importance with regard to particle number based predicted environmental concentrations. The inflow of nanoparticles to the water compartment had a significant impact in the model, and the collision efficiency (which is affected by natural organic matter) was shown to greatly affect model output. Implications for exposure modeling, regulation and science are discussed. A broad spectrum of scientific disciplines must be engaged in the development of exposure models where nano-level properties are linked to macro-scale risk.
environmental risk assessment