Down to earth with nanotechnology

Emilie Bigorgne of the Universit√© Paul Verlaine – Metz and colleagues suggest that the increasing production of nanomaterials will in turn increase the release of nanosized by-products to the environment. Whether or not these particles will accumulate or be degraded and whether or not they pose an ecological risk depends on the chemical and physical properties of the individual types and classes of nanoparticles rather than “nano” representing any intrinsic hazard. With this in mind the team hoped to assess the behaviour, uptake and ecotoxicity of titania nanoparticles and by-products in the earthworm Eisenia fetida. Earthworms play a critical role in the activity of fertile soil and as such have been used extensively in ecotoxicity studies for heavy metals and organic pollutants. This ubiquitous species might thus act as a marker for risk on exposure to the common titania nanoparticles.