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Spot the difference: engineered and natural nanoparticles in the environment—release, behavior, and fate

The production and use of nanoparticles leads to the emission of manufactured or engineered nanoparticles into the environment. Those particles undergo many possible reactions and interactions in the environment they are exposed to. These reactions and the resulting behavior and fate of nanoparticles in the environment have been studied for decades through naturally occurring nanoparticulate (1-100 nm) and colloidal (1-1000 nm) substances. The knowledge gained from these investigations is nowhere near sufficiently complete to create a detailed model of the behavior and fate of engineered nanoparticles in the environment, but is a valuable starting point for the risk assessment of these novel materials. It is the aim of this Review to critically compare naturally observed processes with those found for engineered systems to identify the "nanospecific" properties of manufactured particles and describe critical knowledge gaps relevant for the risk assessment of manufactured nanomaterials in the environment.

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