Earthworms Absorb Copper Nanomaterials From Soil
A new study demonstrates that earthworms absorbed discarded copper nanoparticles that are present in soil. The University of Kentucky study was funded by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Earthworms could be miners)
One crucial step in determining the uptake of nanomaterials was discerning whether uptake of metal ions was released from the nanomaterials or the nanomaterials themselves. Using x-ray analysis, researchers were able to differentiate between copper ions and copper nanoparticles by examining the oxidation state of copper in the earthworm tissues.
Many products will release their nanomaterials either as a result of regular use or after disposal. These discarded nanoparticles could enter waterways and eventually soil. According to the authors, it is unclear how nanomaterials interact in the environment due to lack of scientific research; however, there is a possibility of unintentional ingestion by humans and animals.
Jason Unrine, the lead author of the study said, "This was one of the first studies to demonstrate that engineered nanomaterials can be taken up from the soil by soil organisms and enter food chains, and it has significant implications in terms of potential exposure to nanomaterials for both humans and ecological receptor species."
Maybe there's a way to turn this situation to our advantage. In Larry Niven's 1968 novel A Gift From Earth, he writes about specially developed mining worms:
A mining worm is five inches long and a quarter inch in diameter, mutated from an earthworm. Its grinding orifice is rimmed with little diamond teeth. It ingests metal ores for pleasure, but for food it has to be supplied with blocks of synthetic stuff which is different for each breed of worm - and there's a breed for every metal...
What breaks down the ores is a bacterium in the worm's stomach. Then the worm drops metal grains around it's food block, and we sweep them up.
(Read more about Niven's mining worms)
Update: We should get these earthworms working as soon as possible; take a look at the results of an in vivo study on copper nanoparticle absorbtion by mice (click here and scroll down). Thanks, duG!
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/17/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )
Related News Stories -
Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990
Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Habitability Of Galactic Bulge - Good News For Foundation Fans
'Toran resigned himself to days of careful plotting between Jumps.'
Lava Tubes On Mars And Moon May Be Huge
'Most of the stuff written about Bats' Cave gives a wrong impression.'
Olfactory User Interfaces - Judith Amores Dissertation
Awakened with a whiff of lemon.
Personalized Masks Appear
'The tiger stripes on Jim's mask... made the young people easy to identify.'
Foiling Facial Recognition, Fighting Coaster Viruses, Harlan Ellison-Style
I have no mouth and I must scream.
Ford Uses Obedient Robot Dogs To Update Facilities Maps
'If he sent out two or three of the small tele-operated devices... [he] could see machinery and construction details in real time from both above and below.'
AirTouch Panels Means No More Dirty Touchscreens!
Useful interfaces now appear in thin air.
EllipticaRunner Robot Is Fast, Amazing, Slightly Worrisome
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi...'
SPECTER Electroshock Round Fireable From Shotgun
'...the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little
cases of glass.'
100 Terabyte Exadrive SSD Also Has Biggest Price
'A man could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres in a Schrön loop.'
Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.'
Feel Virtual Reality In Mid-Air!
'...a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet.'
Electric Lasso Gives Police Options
'The blast of silver threads enveloped her...'
TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'
Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories