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Old 04-07-2011, 06:24 PM
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Default Widespread Nanoparticles kill soil life

This is insane:

Quote:
"Queen's researchers have discovered that nanoparticles, which are now present in everything from socks to salad dressing and suntan lotion, may have irreparably damaging effects on soil systems and the environment.
...
Millions of tonnes of nanoparticles are now manufactured every year, including silver nanoparticles which are popular as antibacterial agents...
...
We hadn't thought we would see much of an impact, but instead our results indicate that silver nanoparticles can be classified as highly toxic to microbial communities.

FACEPALM!
Who could have imagined that antibacterial agents actually kill bacteria?!?!

And the implications:
Quote:
As plants are unable to fix nitrogen themselves and nitrogen fixation is essential for plant nutrition, the presence of these particular microbes in soil is vital for plant growth. The analysis of the soil sample six months after the addition of the silver nanoparticles showed negligible quantities of the important nitrogen-fixing species remaining
Charming. Really charming.

Anyone remember DDT? Or Contergan? Or any of the other ****ing failures that came from applying some new shiny technology on a large industrial scale without thinking or anything. Yeahs later someone thinks "Oh, maybe we should check if it kills life that we need" and bothers finally to check for it at least.

And by now the stuff is everywhere, even in Antarctica.

This is making me so sick!

EDIT: Misread the article - the particles are everywhere but Antarctica, so that is where they had to go to get pristine soil.
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:19 AM
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This has actually been known for quite some time.

For a while, nanomaterials were being viewed as the building materials of the future, but then we found out (or rather, they weren't properly tested) that many of them have carcinogenic and teratogenic properties, so much of the progress in that direction stopped.

The silver nanoparticle thing was pretty stupid. They were putting it in socks for a while, until they realized that they really didn't have a good way to get rid of the waste that wasn't environmentally hazardous.

Don't look at this article the wrong way..this has been known for quite some time, and nanoparticle/material use was held back from many applications because of the environmental risks.

Soil fauna and flora actually have much more to worry about from things like oil spills and mining runoff than nanomaterials pollution.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post

And by now the stuff is everywhere, even in Antarctica.

Except if you actually read the god damned source article you would read that it is not.


But, ya know, no biggie. Just read the blog post, blogs are 100% accurate. Everybody knows that...



EDIT: And you could have read MORE about the particles if you'd read the linked articles to that base article, I'm assuming Raiden actually took the time to do that.
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:13 AM
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That blog post is a bit on the inflammatory side. It's not all nanoparticles, it's the silver ones. Actually nanoparticles are pretty pervasive in the environment. The silver ones are not. After looking into it a bit it does seem that use of nanoparticle silver on an industrial scale is ramping up. At this time it's hard to know what effects will be. While I don't think that it should be stopped in an immediate sense, studying it more might not be a bad idea.

It's kind of ironic. Nanoparticle silver has been an alternative medicine for just about forever. It's known as colloidal silver. Never heard anything bad about it then, only now that it's getting more widespread use.
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:24 AM
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While that is some cause for minor concern, there are big gaps of information that need to be filled in. Before I could take a side, I would need to know the concentration of silver nano-particles that threatens plant life due to loss of nitrogen fixing bacteria, whether industrial use actually pushes the concentration above this limit in the surrounding environment (besides the products themselves), how often and widespread this contamination is in the natural environment, and what concentration did the researches actually use?

After all there are no poisonous substances, just poisonous doses. Even too much water can be poisonous for you.

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Old 04-08-2011, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txen View Post
That blog post is a bit on the inflammatory side. It's not all nanoparticles, it's the silver ones. Actually nanoparticles are pretty pervasive in the environment. The silver ones are not. After looking into it a bit it does seem that use of nanoparticle silver on an industrial scale is ramping up. At this time it's hard to know what effects will be. While I don't think that it should be stopped in an immediate sense, studying it more might not be a bad idea.

It's kind of ironic. Nanoparticle silver has been an alternative medicine for just about forever. It's known as colloidal silver. Never heard anything bad about it then, only now that it's getting more widespread use.
Ramping up?

Last I read about it some corporations were under fire for causing some of their workers to contract cancer from unprotected exposure...

Of course, that was more than a year ago, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised...
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Old 04-08-2011, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
This has actually been known for quite some time.

The silver nanoparticle thing was pretty stupid. They were putting it in socks for a while, until they realized that they really didn't have a good way to get rid of the waste that wasn't environmentally hazardous.
But that is what I mean - This article just provides more evidence that the impact is not merely local and that it is not enough to look at some species while ignoring others. And most of all my point was that it is another example of how some technology is put to widespread use first and then the consequences are looked at and then once it was found to potentially be hazardous more studies are done and then suddenly everybody way never in favour for using it in the first place except those who think they can just make a new technology that does it better or claim that the environment can "take it".

Quote:
Soil fauna and flora actually have much more to worry about from things like oil spills and mining runoff than nanomaterials pollution.
Probably - but to pick one focus topic - like oil spills or global warming and downplay all the other impacts is not sensible.
What industrial civilization is doing now and has to do if it wants to keep going is juggling with many balls. And each of them has to be dealt with properly. If just one of them is missed, this can potentially lead to disaster or "the end (TM)" (of something)

So I am not saying that nanoparticles are THE problem or that GMOs are THE problem or that nuclear power, agriculture, fossil fuel burning, deforestation, ocean scidification, mining or any other single thing is THE major problem, but that they all cumulate. And nanotechnology is a great example of how blind industrial application of science is to potential consequences. All the hype some years ago was exactly like what they said about pesticides or fertilizer in the past. The next step then of course is to admit that yes, they may be dangerous, so they set up restrictions or "permissible limits" but still accept the negative impact of them as a neccessary evil, just as occasional oil or radiation leaks are accepted as a risk worth taking.

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Originally Posted by Isard View Post
Except if you actually read the god damned source article you would read that it is not.
Ok, I misread this
Quote:
"The soil was sourced from a remote Arctic site as they felt that this soil stood the greatest chance of being uncontaminated by any nanoparticles.

"We hadn't thought we would see much of an impact, but instead our results indicate that silver nanoparticles can be classified as highly toxic to microbial communities. This is particularly concerning when you consider the vulnerability of the arctic ecosystem."
As that they were surprised by finding them in the Arctic. I admit that I misread this and drew fals conclusions. But it still is telling that they had to go so far to find uncontaminated soil

Quote:
And you could have read MORE about the particles if you'd read the linked articles to that base article, I'm assuming Raiden actually took the time to do that.
These articles refer to specific impacts in certain local settings, like wastewater treatment plants that naturally get a high dosage. Or they deal with that the concentrations of the silver particles are low and certainly do not much harm. What makes this article interesting was that for certain bacteria the impact is a lot higher.

Oh and this
Antibacterial silver nanoparticles are a blast
and also this
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0119125310.htm
suggests that the particles are still developed for industrial use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banefull View Post
While that is some cause for minor concern, there are big gaps of information that need to be filled in. Before I could take a side, I would need to know the concentration of silver nano-particles that threatens plant life due to loss of nitrogen fixing bacteria, whether industrial use actually pushes the concentration above this limit
The problem I see here is that there is not really a "limit" under which there is no effect at all. If a microbe takes 50 different poisons, all below the level that individual poison takes its toll, the combination still has an effect. And as was pointed out, soil microbes are under "attack" from various sources...
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Last edited by auroraglacialis; 04-08-2011 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:00 PM
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...how does a case of exposure of workers to something become a measure of the scale of its use exactly?
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
...how does a case of exposure of workers to something become a measure of the scale of its use exactly?

Its scary. That's all that matters after all, just need to keep the fear alive.
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
...how does a case of exposure of workers to something become a measure of the scale of its use exactly?
Oh.

Let me elaborate; many of the more useful nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubing, have, or their dust/waste have carcinogenic properties.

I seem to recall reading an article about several cases where there were workers directly exposed to it for long periods of time in manufacturing plants, and there were sudden and otherwise unexplainable cancer outbreaks amidst those groups of workers.
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:11 PM
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The fact is - many nanoparticles are found to be not so healthy - for humans (especially factory workers) and for nonhumans (bacteria, mussels, possibly earthworms,...). But they did not bother to check this before setting up huge factories producing them. And now that they have, they have to sell the stuff and keep producing. The economy and jobs depend on it.

So part of the point I am angry is that they do still produce these things and do not act upon the knowledge that there are potential and real dangers already shown. But the thing that makes me most angry is that even in the 21st century new technologies are regarded mainly with enthusiasm and with the prospect of economic wealth and prosperity but not with precaution at the same time. One thought there would be some learning effect from the 20th century inventions that turned out to have downsides - but it seems not so much...

This article and the effect of nanoparticles on beneficial and crucial soil microbes is just one example...
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post
The problem I see here is that there is not really a "limit" under which there is no effect at all. If a microbe takes 50 different poisons, all below the level that individual poison takes its toll, the combination still has an effect. And as was pointed out, soil microbes are under "attack" from various sources...
What you aren't understanding is that we are talking about bacteria.

Bacteria can trade genes for any trait that they want from each other at will if they are close enough together and the environments is not too hostile (this really only means not too dry or too hot/cold).

Therefore, the loss of all the hundreds of trillions of nitrifying bacteria in the world is highly unlikely, because there will likely be just a few amidst the multitudes that have a gene that will keep them safe from nanoparticles, or at least more resistant to them.

If I go out for a walk, and stroll into a field or a forest, will I find that the soil flora/fauna is in bad shape?

No.

They won't even be in bad shape if I go into my backyard and rip out a clump of soil from my garden, or for miles around.

The nanoparticles would need to be in very, very high concentrations to have a noticeable effect on biomes through the extermination of soil microorganisms.

Mining runoff, hydrocarbon pollution, soil acidification, invasive species, and the overuse of pesticides/herbicides etc. really do produce far, far more harm than silver nanoparticles, mainly because they have been around for far longer, and they were around before the existence of environmental science and legislation.

Basically, in the face of things like accelerated climate change, agent orange, DDT, fossil fuel pollution, and the others I mentioned, nanoparticle pollution is a rather small issue.

If you want to do something to help the soil fauna, don't use pesticides or fertilizers and start a compost heap, and/or try and convince your neighbors to do the same.
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:18 AM
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Oh I am having a compost heap, I do not use pesticides and I even collect rainwater from the roof to water the gardens - We have no neighbors though...
In any case - I do not want to overestimate the effect this has - but it seems there IS an effect, even if the soil life can recover from it and even if it is not global. And that is just one of the particles - I posted an article a while ago that showed that iron nanoparticles can go into the muscle tissue of animals. The whole issue seems as of now to be less important than others but nanotechnology is just starting to take off - I am sure many other effects will be found in the next years - usually in the aftermath of widespread use.
I definitely regard global warming as a key issue. But I dislike if people focus solely on that and forget about the various other threats this world faces. What about 40% loss of phytoplankton in the oceans - the true "lungs" of our planet, what about 90% of the fish in the oceans going away, what about pollinators dying, what about radiation and endocrine disruptors. Some of these do not pose a global threat, but they cannot be ignored or pushed aside by "the bigger issue".
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