COLUMBIA, Mo., May 10 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. scientists is about to launch a study of silver nanoparticles, attempting to determine the material's environmental impact.
The University of Missouri-Columbia researchers say silver nanoparticles are emerging as one of today's fastest growing nanomaterials. But the scientists, led by Assistant Professor Zhiqiang Hu, said little is known about any adverse effects of silver nanoparticles to human health and ecological systems.
Hu, Associate Professor Baolin Deng, and colleagues will focus on silver nanoparticles' potential effects on wastewater treatment systems, attempting to determine how they interact with bacteria used for wastewater treatment.
"Nitrifying bacteria is extremely sensitive to metal toxins and could serve as a potential environmental health indicator," Hu said.
The researchers want to discover if silver nanoparticles effectively defend against bacteria found in treatment plants. Hu said the particles enter sewage systems following the washing of hands after people have handled "nanotechnology enhanced" products such as bandages, cosmetics, car wax, laundry detergents and water filters.
The National Science Foundation-funded study is to begin in June and take about a year to complete.
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