Degradation products from consumer nanocomposites: a case study on quantum dot lighting.
ABSTRACT: Most nanomaterials enter the natural environment as nanoenabled products, which are typically composites with primary nanoparticles bound on substrates or embedded in liquid or solid matrices. The environmental risks associated with these products are expected to differ from those associated with the as-produced particles. This article presents a case study on the end-of-life emission of a commercial prototype polymer/quantum-dot (QD) composite used in solid-state lighting for homes. We report the extent of cadmium release upon exposure to a series of environmental and biological simulant fluids, and track the loss of QD-characteristic fluorescence as a marker for chemical damage to the CdSe/ZnS nanoparticles. Measured cadmium releases after 30-day exposure range from 0.007 to 1.2 mg/g of polymer, and the higher values arise for low-pH simulants containing nitric or gastric acid. Centrifugal ultrafiltration and ICP was used to distinguish soluble cadmium from particulate forms. The leachate is found to contain soluble metals with no evidence of free QDs or QD-containing polymeric debris. The absence of free nanoparticles suggests that this product does not raise nanotechnology-specific environmental issues associated with degradation and leaching, but is more usefully regarded as a conventional chemical product that is a potential source of small amounts of soluble cadmium.
Project description:Incidents involving the release of chemical agents can pose significant risks to public health. In such an event, emergency decontamination of affected casualties may need to be undertaken to reduce injury and possible loss of life. To ensure these methods are effective, human volunteer trials (HVTs) of decontamination protocols, using simulant contaminants, have been conducted. Simulants must be used to mimic the physicochemical properties of more harmful chemicals, while remaining non-toxic at the dose applied. This review focuses on studies that employed chemical warfare agent simulants in decontamination contexts, to identify those simulants most suitable for use in HVTs of emergency decontamination. Twenty-two simulants were identified, of which 17 were determined unsuitable for use in HVTs. The remaining simulants (n = 5) were further scrutinized for potential suitability according to toxicity, physicochemical properties and similarities to their equivalent toxic counterparts. Three suitable simulants, for use in HVTs were identified; methyl salicylate (simulant for sulphur mustard), diethyl malonate (simulant for soman) and malathion (simulant for VX or toxic industrial chemicals). All have been safely used in previous HVTs, and have a range of physicochemical properties that would allow useful inference to more toxic chemicals when employed in future studies of emergency decontamination systems.
Project description:The formation of inclusion complexes of the water-soluble p-sulfonatocalix[n]arenes, where n = 4 or 6, with the Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) GD, or Soman, and commonly used dialkyl methylphosphonate simulants has been studied by experimental solution NMR methods and by Molecular Mechanics (MMFF) and semi-empirical (PM6) calculations. Complex formation in non-buffered and buffered solutions is driven by the hydrophobic effect, and complex stoichiometry determined as 1:1 for all host:guest pairs. Low affinity complexes (Kassoc < 100 M-1) are observed for all guests, attributed to poor host-guest complementarity and the role of buffer cation species accounts for the low affinity of the complexes. Comparison of CWA and simulant behavior adds to understanding of CWA-simulant correlations and the challenges of simulant selection.
Project description:A mixed micelle approach is used to produce amphiphilic brush nanoparticles (ABNPs) with cadmium sulfide quantum dot (QD) cores and surface layers of densely grafted (σ = ~1 chain/nm²) and asymmetric (fPS = 0.9) mixed polymer brushes that contain hydrophobic polystyrene (PS) and hydrophilic poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMAA) chains (PS/PMAA-CdS). In aqueous media, the mixed brushes undergo conformational rearrangements that depend strongly on prior salt addition, giving rise to one of two pathways to fluorescent and morphologically disparate QD-polymer colloids. (A) In the absence of salt, centrosymmetric condensation of PS chains forms individual core-shell QD-polymer colloids. (B) In the presence of salt, non-centrosymmetric condensation of PS chains forms Janus particles, which trigger anisotropic interactions and amphiphilic self-assembly into the QD-polymer vesicles. To our knowledge, this is the first example of an ABNP building block that can form either discrete core-shell colloids or self-assembled superstructures in water depending on simple changes to the chemical conditions (i.e., salt addition). Such dramatic and finely tuned morphological variation could inform numerous applications in sensing, biolabeling, photonics, and nanomedicine.
Project description:When humans will settle on the moon or Mars they will have to eat there. Food may be flown in. An alternative could be to cultivate plants at the site itself, preferably in native soils. We report on the first large-scale controlled experiment to investigate the possibility of growing plants in Mars and moon soil simulants. The results show that plants are able to germinate and grow on both Martian and moon soil simulant for a period of 50 days without any addition of nutrients. Growth and flowering on Mars regolith simulant was much better than on moon regolith simulant and even slightly better than on our control nutrient poor river soil. Reflexed stonecrop (a wild plant); the crops tomato, wheat, and cress; and the green manure species field mustard performed particularly well. The latter three flowered, and cress and field mustard also produced seeds. Our results show that in principle it is possible to grow crops and other plant species in Martian and Lunar soil simulants. However, many questions remain about the simulants' water carrying capacity and other physical characteristics and also whether the simulants are representative of the real soils.
Project description:For a surrogate bacterium to be used in outdoor studies, it is important to consider environmental and human safety and ease of detection. Recently, Bacillus thuringiensis, a popular bioinsecticide bacterium, has been gaining attention as a surrogate bacterium for use in biodefense. In this study, we constructed simulant strains of B. thuringiensis with enhanced characteristics for environmental studies. Through transposon mutagenesis, pigment genes were inserted into the chromosome, producing yellow-colored colonies for easy detection. To prevent persistence of spores in the environment, a genetic circuit was designed to produce a spore without sporulation capability. Two loxP sites were inserted, one on each side of the spo0A gene, which encodes a sporulation master regulator, and a sporulation-dependent Cre expression cassette was inserted into the chromosome. This genetic circuit successfully deleted spo0A during sporulation, producing spores that lacked the spo0A gene. In addition, two major ?/?-type small acid-soluble spore protein (SASP) genes, predicted by synteny analysis, were deleted. The spores of the mutant strain showed increased UV-C sensitivity and quickly lost viability when tested in a solar simulator. When the spores of the mutant strain were administered to the lungs of BALB/c mice, cells were quickly removed from the body, suggesting enhanced in vivo safety. All strains constructed in this study contain no antibiotic resistance markers and all heterologous genes were inserted into the chromosome, which are useful features for simulants to be released into the environment.IMPORTANCEB. thuringiensis has recently been receiving increasing attention as a good spore simulant in biodefense research. However, few studies were done to properly address many important features of B. thuringiensis as a simulant in environmental studies. Since spores can persist in the environment for years after release, environmental contamination is a big problem, especially when genetically engineered strains are used. To solve these problems, we report here the development of B. thuringiensis simulant strains that are capable of forming yellow colonies for easy detection, incapable of forming spores more than once due to a genetic circuit, and lacking in two major SASP genes. The genetic circuit to produce a spore without sporulation capability, together with the deletion of SASP genes, ensures the environmental and human safety of the simulant strains developed in this study. All of these features will allow wider use of B. thuringiensis as a simulant for Bacillus anthracis in environmental release studies.
Project description:The growth and solubility of quantum dots (QDs) are important factors that must be examined before these nanoparticles are incorporated into a variety of potential applications. In this work, monolayer-protected CdSe QDs surrounded by water-soluble thiols were prepared using various cadmium salts. The use of a variety of cadmium salts did not have a significant impact on the spectral properties of the CdSe QDs. CdSe QDs were synthesized at rather low temperatures (< 0°C), resulting in slow nanoparticle growth upon subsequent heating of the reaction mixture. The effect of multiple drying and redissolving cycles of the QD samples was examined. The effect of heating temperature on QD growth was studied, with more rapid nanoparticle growth associated with higher temperatures. The results show that QDs can be synthesized at low temperatures and their subsequent growth can be controlled during the heating process.
Project description:Potential consumer exposure to nanoparticles (NPs) from nanoenabled food contact materials (FCMs) has been a driving force for migration studies of NPs from FCMs. Although NP migration from fresh, unused FCMs was not previously observed, conditions that result in significant changes to the surface of FCMs have not been investigated for NP migration into food. Therefore, a quantitative assessment of nanoparticle release from commercially available nanosilver-enabled FCMs was performed using an abrasion protocol to simulate cleaning, cutting, scraping and other stressful use conditions. Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) analysis showed a general increase in root mean square (RMS) roughness after FCM abrasion, and particle count (for particle sizes from 80 nm to 960 nm) at the surface was 4 orders of magnitude higher for the abraded FCMs. Migration was evaluated using both water and 3% (v/v, volume fraction) acetic acid as food simulants. Low concentrations of total Ag were detected in water simulants with a small portion (<10 ng dm-2) in the form of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). Median particle diameter ranged from 39 nm to 50 nm with particle number concentrations on the order of 106 particles dm- 2. Total Ag migration into 3% (v/v) acetic acid was significantly higher than in water; however, 3% (v/v) acetic acid was not suitable for evaluation of NP release due to dissolution of AgNPs to Ag+ under acidic solution chemistries.
Project description:The rapid and portable detection of trace chemical warfare agents (CWAs) remains a challenge for the international security and monitoring community. This work reports the first use of natural photonic crystals (PhCs) as vapor sensors for CWA simulants. Dimethyl methylphosphonate, a nerve agent simulant, and dichloropentane, a mustard gas simulant, were successfully detected at the parts per million level by processing visible light reflected from the PhC inherent to the wing scales of the Morpho didius butterfly. Additionally, modeling of this natural system suggested several parameters for enhancing the sensitivity of a synthetic PhC toward CWA simulants, including materials selection, structure, and spacing of the PhC, and partial functionalization of the PhC toward the analyte of interest. Collectively, this study provides strategies for designing a sensitive, selective, rapid, and affordable means for CWA detection.
Project description:Once released into the environment, engineered nanoparticles (eNPs) are subjected to processes that may alter their physical or chemical properties, potentially altering their toxicity vis-à-vis the as-synthesized materials. We examined the toxicity to zebrafish ( Danio rerio ) embryos of CdSecore/ZnSshell quantum dots (QDs) before and after exposure to an in vitro chemical model designed to simulate oxidative weathering in soil environments based on a reductant-driven Fenton's reaction. Exposure to these oxidative conditions resulted in severe degradation of the QDs: the Zn shell eroded, Cd(2+) and selenium were released, and amorphous Se-containing aggregates were formed. Products of QD weathering exhibited higher potency than did as-synthesized QDs. Morphological endpoints of toxicity included pericardial, ocular and yolk sac edema, nondepleted yolk, spinal curvature, tail malformations, and craniofacial malformations. To better understand the selenium-like toxicity observed in QD exposures, we examined the toxicity of selenite, selenate, and amorphous selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs). Selenite exposures resulted in high mortality to embryos/larvae while selenate and SeNPs were nontoxic. Co-exposures to SeNPs + CdCl2 resulted in dramatic increase in mortality and recapitulated the morphological endpoints of toxicity observed with exposure to products of QD weathering. Cadmium body burden was increased in larvae exposed to weathered QDs or SeNP + CdCl2 suggesting the increased potency of products of QD weathering was due to selenium modulation of cadmium toxicity. Our findings highlight the need to examine the toxicity of eNPs after they have undergone environmental weathering processes.
Project description:Clay/polymer nanocomposites (CPNs) are polymers incorporating refined clay particles that are frequently functionalized with quaternary ammonium cations (QACs) as dispersion aids. There is interest in commercializing CPNs for food contact applications because they have improved strength and barrier properties, but there are few studies on the potential for QACs in CPNs to transfer to foods under conditions of intended use. In this study, we manufactured low-density poly(ethylene) (LDPE)-based CPNs and assessed whether QACs can migrate into several food simulants under accelerated storage conditions. QACs were found to migrate to a fatty food simulant (ethanol) at levels of ?1.1 ?g mg-1 CPN mass after 10 days at 40 °C, constituting about 4% total migration (proportion of the initial QAC content in the CPN that migrated to the simulant). QAC migration into ethanol was ?16× higher from LDPE containing approximately the same concentration of QACs but no clay, suggesting that most QACs in the CPN are tightly bound to clay particles and are immobile. Negligible QACs were found to migrate into aqueous, alcoholic, or acidic simulants from CPNs, and the amount of migrated QACs was also found to scale with the temperature and the initial clay concentration. The migration data were compared to a theoretical diffusion model, and it was found that the diffusion constant for QACs in the CPN was several orders of magnitude slower than predicted, which we attributed to the potential for QACs to migrate as dimers or other aggregates rather than as individual ions. Nevertheless, the use of the migration model resulted in a conservative estimate of the mass transfer of QAC from the CPN test specimens.