Trophic transfer, transformation, and impact of engineered nanomaterials in terrestrial environments


Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are released into the environment with unknown implications in the food chain. Recent findings demonstrate that ENMs may accumulate and/or increase concentrations of the component metal or carbon nanomaterials in the fruits/grains of agricultural crops, have detrimental or beneficial effects on the agronomic traits, yield, and productivity of plants, induce modifications in the nutritional value of food crops, and transfer within trophic levels. Given this information, important questions needed to be resolved include a determination of actual or predicted concentrations of ENMs through the development of new and perhaps hybridized analytical tools, assessment of the nutritional content modifications and/or accumulation of ENMs, component metal, and cocontaminants in edible plants and their implications on human diet, nutrition, and health, assessment of the consequences of ENM-induced changes in soil health, physiological process, and yield on agricultural production and food security, and transfer of ENMs in trophic levels. Given the significant implications of ENMs exposure and the rather large knowledge gaps that exist, it will be prudent to observe judicious and targeted use of ENMs so as to minimize environmental release until a comprehensive environmental fate and effects assessment can be undertaken.

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Environmental Science and Technology