The last 10 years have seen a surge in the use of tiny substances called nanomaterials in agrochemicals like pesticides and fungicides. The idea is to provide more disease protection and better yields for crops, while decreasing the amount of toxins sprayed on agricultural fields.
But when combined with nutrient runoff from fertilized cropland and manure-filled pastures, these “nanopesticides” could also mean more toxic algae outbreaks for nearby streams, lakes and wetlands, a new study finds.
The results appear June 25 in the journal Ecological Applications.
Too small to see with all but the most powerful microscopes, engineered nanomaterials are substances manufactured to be less than 100 nanometers in diameter, many times smaller than a hair’s breadth.
Their nano-scale gives them different chemical and physical properties from their bulk counterparts, including more surface area for reactions and interactions.