Salinity can be a significant environmental stress which can govern the fate of nanoparticles in the environment as well as other factors such as pH, natural organic matter and minerals. In this research, the effects of salinity on the behavior of biogenic selenium nanoparticles (BioSeNPs) and consequences for elemental mercury (Hg0) immobilization in soil and soil solutions were investigated. It was found that homoaggregation and sedimentation of BioSeNPs were enhanced significantly with increasing salinity. Compression of the electric double layers of BioSeNPs at high ionic strengths resulted in attractive van der Waals forces dominating and leading to enhanced aggregation. Moreover, neutralization of the surface negative charge of BioSeNPs by divalent cations and the bridging of BioSeNPs via calcium binding to surface functional groups were also associated with enhanced aggregation. Such enhanced aggregation exerted inhibition of Hg0 immobilization in soil solutions/soils of varying salinity. These results indicate that salinity is an important environmental factor governing aggregation of BioSeNPs and therefore influencing the efficiency of Hg0 immobilization, and possible remediation treatments, as a consequence.
- Selenium nanoparticles
- Mercury immobilization