Researchers at the University of Nevada set out to determine whether engineered nanoparticles accumulate in fresh produce and, if so, to find a way to degrade them to reduce any potential food safety risk. Engineered nanomaterials are found in wastewater, biosolids, and biosolids-amended soils. The researchers developed a novel detection and quantification method for carbon nanotubes, and subsequently found nanotubes in the root, stem, and leaf tissues of lettuce plants after exposure, indicating uptake and translocation occurred in this edible plant. The researchers then developed a mechanism for degrading carbon nanoparticles, using a naturally occurring microorganism, Mycobacterium vanbaalenii PYR-1. This organism could be used to remove carbon nanotubes from the environment, preventing their uptake by edible plants and reducing the likelihood of any food safety risk associated with carbon nanotubes in produce.
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