While they are imperative to our daily routine, we rarely stop to ask the question: How are laundry detergents, cosmetics and other consumer products not only impacting me but the world around me?
Lisa Adden, a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, seeks to answer this important question through her thesis research titled “Mechanistic Molecular Toxicology of Silver Nanoparticles on Escherichia coli.”
Adden will investigate the reactions between silver nanoparticles and Escherichia coli—more commonly known as E. coli—in an effort to determine the potential risk of ecological contamination by the nanoparticles. While the use of silver nanoparticles is currently unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, their effect on reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be quite severe. Natural byproducts of growth in environments containing oxygen, ROS are toxic to organisms but normally are produced in negligible quantities.
However, Adden’s research hypothesizes that the presence of silver nanoparticles will increase ROS production. Adden seeks to determine the threshold at which silver nanoparticles become environmentally toxic. Through her thesis research, she hopes to make scientific contributions which will provide insight in the identification of solutions to environmental nanoparticle contamination.