Virtually nothing is known about the occurrence and fate of fullerenes and carbon nanotubes in the environment or their potential for toxic effects in humans. Emissions of these compounds are certain to increase in the future, but as yet, there is no quantitative basis for assessing the level of human exposure to fullerenes and carbon nanotubes. It is, therefore, crucial that a capability to quantify fullerenes and other carbon-based nanomaterials in environmental and biological matrices be created. As an initial step in this direction, we propose to investigate and where practicable to adapt state-of-the-art, bench-scaled approaches for quantifying fullerenes and functionalized fullerenes present in environmental solids and liquids, and further, to investigate microfluidic tools for quantifying carbon nanotubes present in environmental solids and liquids and, from those showing greatest promise, to develop prototypes of field-deployable devices. Specifically, the experimental aims of this project are to i) investigate and develop practicable, prototypical, bench-scaled methods for quantifying fullerenes and functionalized fullerenes and microfluidic methods for carbon nanotubes, 2) demonstrate quantification of fullerenes and carbon nanotubes in solid samples, such as biota, sediments, industrial and municipal sludges, and landfill solids, and 3) demonstrate quantification of fullerenes, functionalized fullerenes and their functionalized forms as well as carbon nanotubes in aqueous samples, such as municipal wastewater, landfill leachate, and surface water. If carried out, this research would be novel by virtue of being the first creation of a suite of robust analytical methods for identifying and quantifying carbon-based nanomaterials in environmental and biological media. Ultimately, it should enable scientific studies aimed at quantifying the environmental fate of fullerenes, functionalized fullerenes, and carbon nanotubes in natural and engineered aquatic and terrestrial systems.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-LKB-D)
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Oregon State University
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