Emerging Investigator Series: Automated Single-Nanoparticle Quantification and Classification: A Holistic Study of Particles into and out of Wastewater Treatment Plants in Switzerland
Mehrabi, K.; Kaegi, R.; Günther, D.; Gundlach-Graham, A.
Environmental Science: Nano, 2021
With the proliferation of nanotechnologies, engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are increasingly released into the environment. However, the fate of and risk associated with ENPs are still poorly understood. Single particle inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (sp-ICP-TOFMS) is a promising method for the determination of metal- and metalloid-containing nano-particles (NPs) in environmental samples.
In this work, Kamyar Mehrabi and co-workers demonstrate how sp-ICP-TOFMS can be applied on samples collected from wastewater treatment plants using a TOFWERK icpTOF 2R. The authors combine the method with a new data analysis approach including automated particle detection and elemental mass determinations based on online microdroplet calibration. This new approach distinguishes natural NPs from ENPs and allows for the discovery of new, potentially anthropogenic ENPs. This study opens new avenues in the development of high-throughput screening methods for monitoring nano-pollution and the discovery of novel particle targets in various environmental settings.