Nanotoxicity: Sources and Effects on Environment

  • Angana SarkarEmail author
  • Debapriya Sarkar
  • Kasturi Poddar
Part of the Nanotechnology in the Life Sciences book series (NALIS)


With the advancement of nanotechnology, use of nanomaterials has substantially increased due to its optical, magnetic, electrical, and catalytic properties. A significant rise in the use of nanomaterials in various fields like tissue engineering, biosensors, drug delivery, optical electronics, materials science, and many more has been observed in recent years. The sources of these nanomaterials can be natural, incidental, or engineered. The various nanomaterials commonly found in our environment are quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, metal- or metalloid-based nanoparticles, nanostructured flame retardants, fullerenes, etc. With the increased use, environmental exposure to nanomaterials is inevitable, resulting in an increased research in nanotoxicity. The toxicity of nanomaterials depends on their shape, size, amount, conformation, and reactivity. They have a potential to indirectly affect the environmental organisms and enzymes upon contact with their surface. They have impacts on the environment in three possible ways: (1) direct effect on species, (2) transformation of biologically available compounds and nutrients upon interaction with other pollutants, and (3) structural changes of nonliving environment. They disrupt the carbon and nitrogen cycle of the aquatic ecosystem, stress photosynthetic organisms, generate reactive oxygen species, and change the biodiversity. They are persistent and tend to accumulate in the environment increasing the toxicity. A database including all the publications of various nanomaterials and their impact on environmental health and safety has been generated by the ICON (International Council of Nanotechnology) which emphasizes on rousing trends in the field of nanotoxicology. The objective of this chapter is to introduce the different sources of nanomaterials and their effects and mechanisms of toxicity in the environment.


Nanotoxicity Nanowaste Bioaccumulation Biomagnification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angana Sarkar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Debapriya Sarkar
    • 1
  • Kasturi Poddar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biotechnology and Medical EngineeringNational Institute of TechnologyRourkelaIndia

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