Chemical interaction of atmospheric mineral dust-derived nanoparticles with natural seawater — EPS and sunlight-mediated changes

Enikö Kadar, Michael Cunliffe, Andrew Fisher, Bjorn Stolpe, Jamie Lead, Zongbo Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
777 Downloads (Pure)


Laboratory studies were conducted to investigate the interactions of nanoparticles (NPs) formed via simulated cloud processing of mineral dust with seawater under environmentally relevant conditions. The effect of sunlight and the presence of exopolymeric substances (EPS) were assessed on the: (1) colloidal stability of the nanoparticle aggregates (i.e. size distribution, zeta potential, polydispersity); (2) micromorphology and (3) Fe dissolution from particles. We have demonstrated that: (i) synthetic nano-ferrihydrite has distinct aggregation behaviour from NPs formed from mineral dusts in that the average hydrodynamic diameter remained unaltered upon dispersion in seawater (~ 1500 nm), whilst all dust derived NPs increased about three fold in aggregate size; (ii) relatively stable and monodisperse aggregates of NPs formed during simulated cloud processing of mineral dust become more polydisperse and unstable in contact with seawater; (iii) EPS forms stable aggregates with both the ferrihydrite and the dust derived NPs whose hydrodynamic diameter remains unchanged in seawater over 24 h; (iv) dissolved Fe concentration from NPs, measured here as < 3 kDa filter-fraction, is consistently > 30% higher in seawater in the presence of EPS and the effect is even more pronounced in the absence of light; (v) micromorphology of nanoparticles from mineral dusts closely resemble that of synthetic ferrihydrite in MQ water, but in seawater with EPS they form less compact aggregates, highly variable in size, possibly due to EPS-mediated steric and electrostatic interactions. The larger scale implications on real systems of the EPS solubilising effect on Fe and other metals with the additional enhancement of colloidal stability of the resulting aggregates are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-271
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date10 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014


  • Iron oxide nanoparticle
  • Aggregation
  • Dissolution
  • Bioavailability
  • EPS


Dive into the research topics of 'Chemical interaction of atmospheric mineral dust-derived nanoparticles with natural seawater — EPS and sunlight-mediated changes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this