Colon + Septic Tank = Unique, at Times Stinky, Study – A UC, Riverside Project

In a story published by Sean Nealon for the University of California, Riverside – We find out the commonalities of the human colon, septic tank, copper nanoparticles and zebrafish.

Researchers use lab-scale human colon and septic tank to study impact of copper nanoparticles on the environment.

What do a human colon, septic tank, copper nanoparticles and zebrafish have in common? They were the key components used by researchers at the University of California, Riverside and UCLA to study the impact copper nanoparticles, which are found in everything from paint to cosmetics, have on organisms inadvertently exposed to them.

The researchers found that the copper nanoparticles, when studied outside the septic tank, impacted zebrafish embryo hatching rates at concentrations as low as 0.5 parts per million. However, when the copper nanoparticles were released into the replica septic tank, which included liquids that simulated human digested food and household wastewater, they were not bioavailable and didn’t impact hatching rates.

“The results are encouraging because they show with a properly functioning septic tank we can eliminate the toxicity of these nanoparticles,” said Alicia Taylor, a graduate student working in the lab of Sharon Walker, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering.

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