Big Questions about the Role of Small Particles in the Ecosystem

Ben Colman, University of Montana


There are over 1800 consumer products containing nanomaterials, which are defined as materials having at least one dimension less than 100 nm. At this scale, materials often take on novel properties compare to dissolved or larger scale materials, making them of interest to industry and of concern to environmental scientists. Studying of the fate, transport, transformation, and biological uptake of these manufactured materials in the environment, has led to the realization that the much more ubiquitous natural materials in this size range are also taken up by organisms serving as potential stressors or resources for organisms in ecosystems.