Fullerenes are carbon based nanoparticles that may enter the environment as a consequence of both natural processes and human activities. Although little is known about the presence of these chemicals in the environment, recent studies suggested that soil may act as a sink. The aim of the present study was to investigate the presence of fullerenes in soils collected in The Netherlands. Samples (n=91) were taken from 6 locations and analysed using a new developed LC-QTOF-MS method. The locations included highly trafficked and industrialised as well as urban and natural areas. In general, C60 was the most abundant fullerene found in the environment, detected in almost a half of the samples and at concentrations in the range of ng/kg. Other fullerenes such as C70 and an unknown structure containing a C60 cage were detected to a lower extent. The highest concentrations were found in the proximity of combustion sites such as a coal power plant and an incinerator, suggesting that the nanoparticles were unintentionally produced during combustions processes and reached the soil through atmospheric deposition. Consistent with other recent studies, these results show that fullerenes are widely present in the environment and that the main route for their entrance may be due to human activities. These data will be helpful in the understanding of the distribution of fullerenes in the environment and for the study of their behaviour and fate in soil.
Authors: Carboni A, Helmus R, Emke E, van den Brink N, Parsons JR, Kalbitz K, de Voogt P. ;Full Source: Environmental Pollution. 2016 Sep 20; 219:47-55. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.09.034. [Epub ahead of print] ;