Technologies based on nanomaterials are developing daily, finding applications as diverse as new sensors for improved monitoring and detection, new medical imaging techniques, novel approaches to the treatment and remediation of contaminated land and green technologies for chemical production. An inevitable consequence of Man's exploitation of nanotechnology is both the deliberate and accidental release of manufactured nanomaterials into the environment. This presents the analytical science community with a challenge for which it is, at present, poorly prepared—the quantification of specific nanoparticles in the environment. The problem is the development of trace analysis methods targeted at solid phase species, rather than the dissolved species measured, for example, in a typical pesticide residue analysis. This will require the adoption of radically different approaches and techniques, many of which will be unfamiliar to the conventionally trained environmental analyst. This paper sets out to give a very brief overview of the techniques that are available, specifically questioning their suitability for the quantification of man-made nanoparticles in the aquatic environment. Suggestions are made as to how these techniques might be transferred from the characterization of synthetic products to the field of trace analysis. The analytical community is presented with a new frontier of environmental investigation that can only commence with the development of innovative approaches to the quantitative measurement of man-made nanomaterials in the environment.
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