Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From the Sewer to the Sound: Researchers Examining Effects of Household Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles on Marine Ecosystems

25.10.2010
While swimmers and boaters along any shore consider the slimy green film that coats everything from rocks to docks as a nuisance, University of New Haven (UNH) chemical engineering student Nicole Reardon and Assistant Professor Shannon Ciston, Ph.D. think otherwise.

They view the slime, or biofilm, as a complex community that may hold the key to informing humanity of the true environmental impact of the chemical nanoparticles that find their way from area kitchens, baths and garages into Long Island Sound.

One such controversial compound is titanium dioxide, which is used to whiten and brighten a multitude of products, including candy, cosmetics, toothpaste and paint.

The underlying premise for testing the effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles on biofilms is simple: when some chemicals are in nanoparticle form—ranging in size from 1/100th to 1/1000th of a human hair—they become bioactive, degrading and passing through cell membranes. Noting that “large” particles of titanium dioxide are considered safe by the FDA, Ciston and Reardon are interested in how nanoparticles of titanium dioxode affect marine ecosystems, particularly in terms of the humble biofilm. Reardon explains that while marine biofilms can be a bother, they are critical players in the oceanic environment. In addition to transforming nitrogen and carbon in ways that positively impact the greater food web, biofilms clean waste water by eating harmful organic matter and can even be used to clean oil and gasoline spills through bioremediation.

This fall, Reardon is continuing the biofilm research she began during her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at UNH. Reardon and her SURF advisor, Ciston, are collecting biofilm samples from a pier in West Haven, Connecticut, and Port Jefferson, Long Island, using a substrate system Reardon designed. Reardon harvests the biofilm that naturally attaches to the microscope slides in the submerged substrate and then heads to either the UNH lab or the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where fellow researchers are sharing their lab space and expertise. In the lab, Reardon stains the biofilm bacteria with fluorescent nucleic acid and, using digital image analysis, collects data on the depth and biomass of her test subjects. She also uses optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to identify characteristics of the biofilm structure and to identify the organisms.

Reardon and Ciston “dose” the samples with a composite material made of carbon nanotubes and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Ultimately, they will compare the dosed biofilm with the untreated samples, determine how the microorganisms were affected and look at the greater implications for Long Island Sound.

As a chemical engineer with an environmental engineering background, Ciston notes she is fascinated by titanium dioxide and has been studying it, and its effects on organisms, for several years. She notes that titanium oxide is included in many cosmetic preparations to reflect light away from the skin and, as a pigment, is used to enhance the white color of certain foods, including dairy products and candy. It also brightens toothpaste and some medications, is used as a food additive and flavor enhancer, and used in paints for cars, boats, and airplanes.

A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven provides its students with a valuable combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. Founded in 1920, UNH is a private, top-tier comprehensive university with an 80-acre main campus. The University has an enrollment of more than 5,900: approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 4,200 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in university housing. The University offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees and more than 25 graduate degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Tagliatela College of Engineering and University College. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.

Julie Winkel | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.newhaven.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>