Zinc oxide nanoparticles are positively charged and belong to the group of soluble nanoparticles. They show a strong agglomeration tendency and are prone to dissolving meaning that in addition to the actual nanoparticles there are always dissolved zinc ions present in aqueous solution. Most data on zinc oxide nanoparticles is available for their behaviour in water and soil, whereas up-to-now no information could be retrieved for air.


In normal tap water, zinc oxide nanoparticles are not very stable and sedimentation occurs. When adding humic acid, a substance occurring in natural waters, the particles are stabilised and their mobility increases. The solubility of the nanoparticles depends on particle properties such as size, but also on the nature and composition of the surrounding environment. Under the conditions prevailing in a waste water treatment plant, zinc oxide nanoparticles are assumed to completely dissolve. Thus, factors such as ambient temperature and pH influence strongly agglomeration and ion release. The nature of the surface coatings can also influence the solubility of zinc oxide nanoparticles [1-4,7,8,10-16,19].


Zinc oxide nanoparticles entering sediments or soils are considered to be poorly mobile, which means they remain more or less at the site of their entry into the environment. Phosphates, such as those found in groundwater, however facilitate transport of zinc oxide nanoparticles [2,5,9,16-18].

Zinc oxide nanoparticles are photocatalytically active and can be used to degrade chemical substances in the environment [6].


Zinc oxide nanoparticles are considered less stable under environmental conditions since they have a strong tendency to dissolve. The speed of the process is dependent on the prevailing environmental conditions. Due to their tendency for sedimentation, a large share of zinc oxide nanoparticles released into the environment deposits in sediments.


Literature arrow down

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