Studying the Natural Environment and Emerging Contaminants One Nanoparticle at a Time

Manuel Montano

Assistant Professor, Huxley College

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Start Time & Date

Despite their small size, nanoparticles are responsible for several environmental processes ranging from the biogeochemical cycling of elements to the transport of toxicants such as heavy metals and radionuclides. The advent of engineered nanotechnology in the recent years necessitated the development of sensitive and selective analytical tools and techniques capable of exploring the nanoscale. These new analytical approaches, such as single particle ICP-MS, are now being used to better understand the natural environment and the impacts of anthropogenic activities. In this talk, case studies of the South Platte Watershed (Denver, CO, U.S.A.), Clark Fork River (Montana, U.S.A.), and the Athabasca River (Alberta, Canada) demonstrate the applicability of using nanoanalysis to study the transport of lead and other trace metals; as well as, the distribution of clay minerals and metal oxides in the suspended sediment. Looking to the future, we also demonstrate how nanoparticle analysis can be used to study new classes of emerging contaminants such as microplastics and nanoplastics in complex environmental and biological media. It is with the continued development of these tools and instruments we can further our ability to study the behavior and ecotoxicological impacts of these contaminants.

Manuel Montano

Dr. Manuel Montaño is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Sciences department at Western Washington University. Dr. Montaño received his PhD from the Colorado School of Mines in Applied Chemistry, where his thesis focused on the development of analytical tools and techniques for the study of engineered nanoparticles in natural systems. His postdoctoral work at Duke University involved the study of the polymer additive and plasticizer release from polymer nanocomposites and the quantification of carbon nanotubes in estuarine sediment. While at the University of Vienna, he developed methods and techniques for single particle ICP-time-of-flight mass spectrometry in order to better examine the nanogeochemical environment and anthropogenic impacts such as acid mine drainage. Since joining WWU in 2019, his work has continued to focus on the nanoscale environment, examining a diverse array of contaminants including microplastics, nanofungicides, and stormwater discharge. 

More Information

The Huxley Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public.

Location & Time

Presentations are held each Thursday at 4:30pm On-campus and ONLINE.


Due to the pandemic, the in-person presentations are not open to the public. However, the talks will be live-streamed ONLINE for the off-campus audience.


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