Natural acids in soil could protect rice from toxic nanoparticles | Science News

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Natural acids in soil could protect rice from toxic nanoparticles

Lab experiments may overestimate some environmental impacts, study suggests

By
2:30pm, April 17, 2015
a field of rice

DOSE OF DIRT  Common soil components may render toxic nanoparticles harmless to rice plants.

A dose of dirt could defend rice plants from the damaging effects of toxic nanoparticles.

Acids naturally found in the organic matter of soil, collectively called humic acid, can protect rice seedlings from the cell damage and stunted root growth caused by copper oxide nanoparticles, researchers report April 13 in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. These toxic nanoparticles are used in products such as paints, electronics and fungicides and can leak into the environment. The new finding, however, suggests that these nanoparticles may not have the same toxic effects in the environment as they do in many lab experiments, which often omit factoring in natural, complex components such as humic acid.

This study demonstrates that simplified lab experiments “can significantly exaggerate the potential for environmental impacts,” says environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez of Rice

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