Nanotechnology is being used for many everyday life products such as in medicine, deodorants, sunscreens or socks. These are only a few examples of consumer products containing nano-sized particles. Nonetheless it is difficult to determine the distribution of nanoparticles in the environment and the risks to human health. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment researcher Joris Meesters developed the SimpleBox4nano model to calculate concentrations of nanoparticles in water, soil and air. A major step forward in the environmental risk assessment of nanoparticles. On September 6th, Meesters will graduate on this research and obtain his PhD at Radboud University Nijmegen.
The risks of nanoparticles in the environment depends on the extent of exposure, and the level at which harmful effects occur. Within the current European Chemical Risk Assessment (REACH) regulations, more knowledge is required regarding the fate of nanoparticles in the environment. Therefore, in his research, Joris Meesters made the existing distribution model for chemicals (SimpleBox) suitable for estimating concentrations of nanoparticles in water, soil and air.
New processes have been added that specifically apply to nanoparticles, such as the clustering of particles. Meesters also tested the model using three metal oxide nanoparticles: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and cerium dioxide. The SimpleBox model results confirm the clumping of nano particles with the many natural particles in the environment (clay, sediment, organic matter). His research shows that SimpleBox4.0-nano can be used to estimate the distribution of nanoparticles in the environment.