Detection of Engineered Nanoparticles in Soil

Advances in nanomaterial engineering have enabled exciting new technological and scientific capabilities. However, the safety of nanomaterials is still a topic of debate. Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs), which are produced industrially in large volumes, are known to propagate into the environment, where they remain present in low concentrations. The detection of ENPs in environmental samples is one of the biggest challenges for monitoring and assessing the risk of nanomaterials. Soil is a very complex matrix and contains natural particulate matter that is often chemically and physically similar to manufactured particles. Inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry is one of a few techniques offering the extremely low detection limits required for the analysis of ENPs. With its unique capability to simultaneously measure all elements in single particles, the icpTOF constitutes a promising tool for fingerprinting of nanoparticles in environmental samples.