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Nano-Safety Research Group

Specialists in the assessment of nanomaterial toxicity to human health and the environment

Virginia Echavarri Bravo

Virginia Echavarriv1The rise of nanotechnology has led to an increase in the manufacturing and use of new materials that at nano scale exhibit different characteristics to their respective bulk material. Nano silver is one of those materials, and it is incorporated in a wide variety of applications, such as health and personal care products owing to their antimicrobial properties. As much of the silver is disposed of through domestic waste water, the question arises whether the accumulation in the receiving estuarine environment could negatively affect the functioning of resident bacterial communities that play an important role in biogeochemical processes.

The aim of Virginia's research is to study the effects of different types of silver nanomaterials (AgNMs) on estuarine bacteria and determine minimum inhibitory concentrations in order to support environmental policy and the implementation of a strict and coherent risk assessment framework for silver-containing materials. The second aim is to study the impact of AgNMs based on an ecosystem approach.

A series of microcosms are established with sediment and water samples from different areas of the Firth of Forth estuary to monitor bacterial abundance in water and sediment samples in the presence of AgNMs as well as parameters such as Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5) and inorganic forms of nitrogen to determine whether biogeochemical cycles could be affected.


Dr Mark Hartl (School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University)

Dr Lynn Paterson (School of Engineering and Physical Sciences,  Heriot-Watt University)


Heriot-Watt University Environment and Climate Change Theme

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