SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  16 February 2012
Volume 13 Issue 2

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SETAC Europe Nano Training School Success

Richard Handy, University of Plymouth

Environmental research activity on nanomaterials is growing rapidly, and with every new field of science comes the need to train new scientists. To this end, SETAC Europe held the first Nano Winter Training School on the “Synthesis, Characterisation, Ecotoxicity, Hazard and Risk Assessment of Engineered Nanoparticles” at the University of Plymouth between 4-6th January 2012.

The event was hosted by Professor Richard Handy, who is the director of the Ecotoxicology Research & Innovation Centre for the University . The event was co-sponsored by two EU projects, ENNSATOX and Nanofate. ENNSATOX is concerned with the fate, behaviour and toxicity of nanoparticles in the aquatic environment, focussing on marine and estuarine impacts. It is coordinated by the University of Leeds in the UK. SETAC Europe is dissemination partner for the ENNSATOX project. NanoFate is concerned with the fate of nanoparticles and nanomaterials in freshwater environments and soil. It is coordinated by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK. Plymouth University is a member of NanoImpactNet a multidisciplinary European network on the health and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and the training activity was supported by several laboratory staff working on the new FP7 project, MARINA, which is about managing the risks of engineered nanomaterials.

The training school was definitely hands on in the laboratory. After some lectures to set the scene, students went through the process of making gold nanoparticle dispersions, doing the chemical characterisation including nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA, using instruments from Nanosight). On the second day of the course the students learnt a range of simple optical methods for monitoring dispersions of particles using spectrophotometers, and determined the critical coagulation concentration of their materials. The third day of the course focused on biological effects with a toxicity test of copper nanoparticles using Daphnia sp. (water fleas), and this also highlighted some methodological issues relating to dosing test systems and dispersing materials in ecotoxicity tests. In the afternoon the students received a practical demonstration of inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to measure metallic nanoparticles, and also single particle ICP-MS for measuring particles in tissue digests.

The training event could not have taken place without the dedicated support of several academic staff, and the students learnt from international experts including Professors Rik Brydson and Andrew Nelson (University of Leeds), Dr Claus Svendsen (CEH), Prof. James Readman (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), and Prof. Richard Owen (University of Exeter).

Those interested in finding out more about environmental nano science might like to attend the 7th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials. This is now one of the premier nano meetings in this field, and the meeting series has been supported by SETAC since it began back in 2006. The next conference will be held in Banff, Alberta, Canada, 10-12th September 2012, hosted by Professor Greg Goss from the University of Alberta ( We hope to see you there!

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