Nanoremediation as A New Method of Treating Water Contamination

Stephanie Budhan ‘21

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Figure 1. Water contamination contains heavy metals, parasites, and other debris that is harmful to humans and other animals.

Water contamination occurs when waste material is deposited into a body of water and is not removed, leading to environmental degradation over the long term. Clean water is necessary for both humans and animals. Nurturing crops with contaminated water can cause the spread of waterborne illnesses among the population. Likewise, it is not healthy to breed animals with contaminated water as it may compromise their reproductive and immune systems over time. In addition to the agricultural need for clean water, the industrial sector also relies on clean water. Contaminated water allows for rapid multiplication of microorganisms which can in turn lead to a situation called biofouling in which a supply of water suddenly becomes unfit to use within an industrial plant.

There have been many attempts to ameliorate water contamination. For example, the sludge process is already being used to absorb and eliminate organic matter and pathogens in contaminated water by relying on a colony of microorganisms to do this cleanup. However, a more efficient water contamination cleanup method being researched is one that include nanoparticles. Nanoremediation involves bringing nanoparticles in contact contaminants to cause coagulation and disinfection. Potential nanoparticles zinc and magnetite nanoparticles.

Magnetite nanoparticles are capable of removing pathogenic and suspended contaminants using heavy metals which allow the formation of hydroxide complexes. For example, (Fe3+) reacts with the hydroxide ion (OH-) to form magnetite hydroxide FeO(OH)- which in turn can remove harmful microorganism from the water. It is also possible to remove carcinogenic metals and radioactive chemicals from contaminated water using magnetite nanoparticles. Likewise, zinc nanoparticles can also remove heavy metals from water due to its porous structure and large surface area. Zinc nanoparticles can also participate in photo catalysis, a process which takes advantage of oxidation- reduction reactions to immobilize bacteria remove them from water. Although the preparation of nanoparticles can be complex and expensive, nanoremediation is a promising treatment for water contamination.

 

References

  1. A. Fadeyibi, et. al., Potentials of zinc and magnetite nanoparticles for contaminated water treatment. Agricultural Reviews 39, 175-180 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.18805/ag.R-113  
  2. Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HARSHAW_CHEMICAL_COMPANY_DISCHARGES_WASTE_WATER_INTO_THE_CUYAHOGA_RIVER_-_NARA_-_550193.jpg
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