Inorganic nanoparticles and the environment: Balancing benefits and risks

Eudald Casals, Edgar González, Victor Puntes

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental remediation issues, although being essential, are partially and incompletely solved by conventional technologies. Critical points include ensuring access to clean water, removing air pollutants and cleaning up industrial- or military-contaminated soils, among others. A series of laboratory demonstrations have shown how nanoparticles (NPs) are efficient in carrying out these works. However, a deeper understanding of the processes at the molecular level and the transfer to the larger scales of real application are still needed. Exploiting material properties at the nanoscale for environmental remediation, apart from contributing to the benefits of living in a cleaner world, has the potential to promote economic growth and innovation, while allowing a sustainable development of nanotechnologies. Of course, benefits obtained have to be balanced with the potential risks of introducing large amounts of NPs in the environment. Whether the unknown risks of engineered NPs, which are currently an established field of research called nanotoxicology, outweigh their benefits for the society is a question still being solved. In this chapter, properties that make NPs appealing for environmental remediation, safety aspects and potential-associated toxicity are described. Moreover, some model cases of environmental applications using inorganic NPs are shown. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComprehensive Analytical Chemistry
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Heavy Metals Adsorption
  • Inorganic Nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticles Reactivity
  • Nanotechnology as Remediation Technology
  • Photocatalysis
  • Water, Soil and Air Purification


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