Plastic nanoparticles raise concern because of their potential impact on the environment. However, many questions need to be answered to establish how dangerous they really are.
Plastic dispersed in the environment eventually fragments in minuscule particles known as microplastic and nanoplastic. With the latter we usually refer to plastic specimens smaller than a micron. Nanoplastic could pose serious risks to the environment, but at this stage we know too little about it. Development of analytical techniques to monitor its environmental fate and further studies on their toxicity are necessary to evaluate how dangerous plastic nanoparticles really are.
Fragments of plastic smaller than 1 μm have raised concerns about the potential risks they pose to the environment. Research will have to answer a number of questions to establish what the realistic risks are.
To assess potential risks posed by plastic nanoparticles, we must study the way in which they transfer and transform in the environment. Using 13C-labelled nanoplastics could provide a safe and effective way to establish whether the plastic is mineralized or whether it persists in the environment.
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The ability to synthesize metal-doped nanoplastic opens windows to accurately assess the potential environmental hazards that nanoplastic poses.
Synthesis of metal-doped nanoplastics and their utility to investigate fate and behaviour in complex environmental systems
Analytical challenges in detecting nanoplastics have hindered the understanding of their behaviour in environmental systems, but these difficulties can be circumvented by synthesizing metal-doped nanoplastics (where the metal can be measured as a proxy for the plastic) to undertake mechanistic investigations of particle fate, transport and biological interactions in lab and pilot-scale studies.