Is there evidence for man-made nanoparticles in the Dutch environment?

Patrick Bauerlein, Erik Emke, Peter Tromp, Johannes Hofman, Andrea Carboni, Ferry Schooneman, Pim de Voogt, Annemarie van Wezel

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Only very limited information is available on measured environmental concentrations of nanoparticles. In this study, several environmental compartments in The Netherlands were probed for the presence of nanoparticles. Different types of water were screened for the presence of inorganic (Ag, Au, TiO2) and organic nanoparticles (C60, C70, [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid octyl ester, [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid butyl ester, [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester, [6,6]-bis-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester, [6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester, [6,6]-thienyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester). Air samples were analysed for the presence of nanoparticulate Mo, Ag, Ce, W, Pd, Pt, Rh, Zn, Ti, Si, B as well as Fe and Cu. ICP-MS, Orbitrap-HRMS, SEM and EDX were used for this survey. Water samples included dune and bank filtrates, surface waters and ground waters as well as influents, effluents and sludge of sewage treatment plants (STPs), and surface waters collected near airports and harbours. Air samples included both urban and rural samples. C60 was detected in air, sewage treatment plants, influents, effluents and sludge, but in no other aqueous samples despite the low detection limit of 0.1 ng/L. C70 and functionalised fullerenes were not detected at all. In STP sludge and influent the occurrence of Ag and Au nanoparticles was verified by SEM/EDX and ICP-MS. In air up to about 25 m% of certain metals was found in the nanosize fraction. Overall, between 1 and 6% of the total mass from metals in the air samples was found in the size fraction < 100 nm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-283
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date24 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2017


  • Nanoparticles
  • Fullerenes
  • Inorganic
  • Water
  • Field survey


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