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Potential release pathways, environmental fate, and ecological risks of carbon nanotubes



Elijah J. Petersen, Andrew Whelton, Liwen Zhang, Qingguo Huang, Nasir M. Uddin, Nikolai Mattison, Denis O'Carroll, Theodore Henry, Tinh Nguyen, Richard D. Holbrook, Kai Chen


Carbon nanotubes are currently being used in a number of consumer products, and exponentially higher production masses and a broader range of applications are expected in future years. However, the data on the environmental release pathways, environmental behaviors, and potential toxic effects to organisms has not been systematically reviewed. More specifically, we review the release of carbon nanotubes from polymeric consumer products, their potential release during incineration, and the potential for carbon nanotubes to transport through wastewater treatment systems and enter natural water bodies. For nanotubes released into the environment, it is then critical to understand their fate and behavior, which is reviewed through investigating their transport through surface and subsurface media, their aggregation properties, their interactions with soils and sediments, and their potential for biotic and abiotic degradation or oxidation. Lastly, the potential risks of carbon nanotubes on their risk to soil, sediment, and aquatic ecosystems is assessed. The most pressing measurement needs in each of these areas are also highlighted.
Environmental Science & Technology


Petersen, E. , Whelton, A. , Zhang, L. , Huang, Q. , Uddin, N. , Mattison, N. , O'Carroll, D. , Henry, T. , Nguyen, T. , Holbrook, R. and Chen, K. (2011), Potential release pathways, environmental fate, and ecological risks of carbon nanotubes, Environmental Science & Technology, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created October 11, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017