In considering the major threat to water resource security posed by climate change, we should not forget other new threats. 'New' pollutants, which include a range of new synthetic organics including industrial endocrine-disrupting
Water Sciences, Earth Sciences, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK e-mail: [email protected]
chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other personal care products, manufactured nanoparticles, and antibiotic-resistant microbes, comprise one such threat.
This paper concerns manufactured nanoparticles (mNPs), the basic product of the nanotechnology industry. mNPs are generally defined as particles with dimensions between 1 and 100 nm manufactured either intentionally, or unintentionally as a by-product of some other activity. The commonest types of mNPs are based on carbon [e.g. carbon nanotubes (CNTs)] or metals/metal oxides (e.g. Ag, ZnO), and are used in the production of clothes, medical products, cars, and personal care products (Sect. 16.2). In future, such mNPs, and new types, are expected to be produced for many other purposes, including groundwater remediation . Nanotechnology is thus a very rapidly expanding industry, forecast to reach $1012 turnover by 2015 . With vastly increased production, increasing amounts of mNPs will find their way into the subsurface, and this will be a problem if mNPs are both toxic and mobile. There is therefore a major international research effort underway to determine the toxicity and environmental mobility of mNPs.
The aim of this paper is, therefore, after a brief introduction to mNPs (Sect. 16.2), to review the findings to date, firstly in toxicity (Sect. 16.3), and secondly in mobility in groundwaters (Sect. 16.4), and to make an interim judgement about the potential threat to water security from mNPs.
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