In an advance toward understanding the environmental effects of manufactured nanomaterials, scientists in Indiana are reporting that fullerenes have little impact on natural microbes in soil. These communities of bacteria and other microorganisms play critical roles in soil health, which include the recycling of nutrients tied up in organic materials so they can be used by plants.
Ronald F. Turco and colleagues point out that nanomaterials may be released to the environment in the future, with emergence of a nanomaterials industry that involves large-scale manufacture of fullerenes (C60), carbon nanotubes and other substances. "Using C60 as a model, we provide the first report on the impact of manufactured nanomaterials on the microbial aspects of soil," the scientists state in a report scheduled for the May 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal. "This is a key first step in establishing an understanding of the environmental impact of C60."
Previous studies suggested that carbon nanomaterials had a toxic effect on microbes. Nobody had run the test in soils before. The new study was done with soil that contained organic material and salts found naturally in soil. These materials may tie-up nanomaterials, thus reducing their bioavailability and toxicity, the researchers indicated.
ARTICLE ##2 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Impact of Fullerene (C60) on a Soil Microbial Community"