Cerium dioxide nanoparticles in soil can migrate into crop plants, according to a US study on soya bean plants funded by the National Science Foundation and the US EPA.
A team led by Jorge Gardea-Torresdey from the University of Texas at El Paso grew soya bean plants in soil containing zinc oxide or cerium oxide nanoparticles. Zinc oxide is used in a wide range of products, from sunscreens to antibacterial agents and pigments. Cerium dioxide is used as a catalyst, as well as in gas sensors, sunscreens, and cosmetic creams.
X-ray absorption studies revealed that the plants appeared to have biotransformed the zinc nanoparticles to zinc citrate. Cerium, however, remained mostly as cerium dioxide nanoparticles within the plant.
Professor Gardea-Torresdey now plans to study the effects of various sizes and types of nanoparticles on different food crops.
The research is published in ACS Nano.