Pollution-Fighting Particles

  • Author: Nancy McGuire
  • Published: 22 July 2015
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Nature Communications/Nature Publishing Group
thumbnail image: Pollution-Fighting Particles

A new method uses polymer nanoparticles to trap and remove organic pollutants from soil and water. Protective shells keep the nanoparticles separated in water, but ultraviolet light causes them to lose their shells and clump together so that they can be recovered, carrying adsorbed pollutants with them.

Robert Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA, and colleagues found that the hydrophobic poly(lactic acid) ends of the polymer chains attract organic pollutants to the interiors of the particles. The hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol) chain ends face outward and stabilize the particles in a colloidal suspension. The researchers tested this approach on laboratory wastewater, thermal printing paper, and contaminated soil. They tried to remove dye compounds, endocrine disruptors, biopersistent compounds, and pharmaceuticals. A single extraction, using less than 1 % (w/v) of the nanoparticles, removed 5 % to 100 % of the pollutants.

Preliminary experiments with zebrafish embryos suggest that the combination of adsorption onto nanoparticles and UV photodegradation can reduce the cancer-causing tendencies of bisphenol A, triclosan, and 17α-ethinyl estradiol without generating obviously toxic byproducts.


Article Views: 4002

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission and consult our permission guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH