Platinum-Containing Nanomaterials: Sources, Speciation, and Toxicity in the Environment

EPA Grant Number: R833892
Title: Platinum-Containing Nanomaterials: Sources, Speciation, and Toxicity in the Environment
Investigators: Schauer, James J. , Shafer, Martin M.
Current Investigators: Schauer, James J. , Toner, Brandy M. , Shafer, Martin M.
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison , University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: February 1, 2009 through January 31, 2013
Project Amount: $399,406
RFA: Exploratory Research: Nanotechnology Research Grants Investigating Fate, Transport, Transformation, and Exposure of Engineered Nanomaterials: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, NSF, & DOE (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Safer Chemicals


Platinum is the archetypal element where speciation is absolutely essential for valid toxicology assessments, yet critical basic information on environmental pools, speciation and reactivity is lacking. Anthropogenic platinum emissions to the environment have dramatically risen over the past 2-3 decades and consumptive use, particularly in nano-catalytic applications, is projected to increase. Though platinum in most primary emissions is thought to be present in relatively benign elemental species, evidence clearly suggests that speciation of nano-platinum can change rapidly after release – a factor that must be considered in fate/transport and toxicology modeling. Our research plan addresses three major questions:

  1. What are the primary sources and environment receptors of nano-platinum?
  2. What are the chemical forms of platinum introduced into the environment from current and potential major sources?
  3. What is the magnitude of human exposure to toxic species of platinum from selected sources?
  4. How does the speciation of platinum change within specific environmental reservoirs after release?


Sources and environmental receptors of nano-platinum will be sampled in collaboration with researchers across the country. Our focus will be on aerosol-mediated emissions, transport, and exposure in non-occupational settings; however, we will carry-out limited sampling within facilities where platinum is used in nano-technology manufacturing. Concentrations and chemical speciation of platinum in these samples will be determined using a suite of state-of-art analytical tools. Platinum species transformation will be evaluated in controlled laboratory experiments with both environmental and model samples.

Expected Results:

Through our multidisciplinary approach we expect to substantially advance our understanding of the sources, human exposures, speciation and transformation of nano-platinum materials in the environment. We expect to provide some of the first measurements of the recognized toxic species of platinum in environmental media. Vital information on the concentrations and chemical species of platinum in mobile source emissions and important environmental receptors will be provided. Fundamental data on rates of species transformation will be acquired. The chemical speciation and exposure data will enable enhanced assessments of the toxicological relevance of environmental platinum species.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

nanoparticles, platinum, metals, atmosphere, aerosol, mobile sources, health effects, toxicity, bioavailability, environmental chemistry, chemical speciation,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • Final Report