The Accident

A truck spilled a portion of its cargo in Daysville onto a local road, sidewalks and near the loading dock of Nano Inc. In total, 33,000 lb (15,000kg) of Nano-[Cu]-cide® powder were released in a residential/commercial neighborhood. Nearby are an Elementary School 400 ft (120 m) away, residential high-rises 600 ft way (180 m) and a commercial/business area with a pedestrian zone 1000 ft (300 m) away. Further away are other urban, residential, commercial and industrial areas and public parks.

Environmental conditions: 82°F/28°C; mid-morning, weekday, overcast, gusty winds up to 20 miles/hour (30 km/hr) from the West

Product Details


The fictitious Nano-[Cu]-cide is a spray dried powder made from nanoscale copper hydroxide (80 nm spheres) and precipitated silica as an inert. The copper content of copper hydroxide is 65%; the fictitious Nano-[Cu]-cide is 61% copper hydroxide and 34% precipitated silica with the remainder water soluble binders. Spray drying leads to a less dusty product, but the particles remain friable to any mechanical stress. The product is provided in 20 kg bags and large flexible intermediate bulk containers of 1000 and 2000 kg. The FIBC should not be stacked upon each. For the purpose of the scrimmage, we will be assuming a truck load of fifteen (15) 1000 kg FIBC containers representing 15 tons of product. The product is registered as an agricultural fungicide and for protecting wood products that will be in contact with soil.

As an agricultural fungicide, the product is dispersed into holding tanks using simple stirring, leading to the spray-dried particle’s disintegration to form a suspension that is sprayed onto fields (or orchards) using application rates specific to the crop or fruit being protected. The product attaches to leaves, where it is available during rainstorms or irrigation episodes to dissolve to copper ions, which act as the fungicide. As a wood preservative, the product is dispersed into holding tanks using simple stirring resulting in disintegration of the spray-dried particle to form a suspension. The wood articles are submerged in the suspension where the particles enter wood pores and attach to the cellulose to be available as copper ion reservoirs when the wood articles are in contact with the ground.

Amount spilled as product:15 tons
Amount spilled as solids:15 tons
Solids composition:61% Cu(OH)2/34% silica

1 ton is 1,000 kg or 2,200 lb.


Potential Private Briefing Questions

The charge for the COR teams is to prepare a response to the hypothetical “Daysville” spill scenario for a private briefing with an audience of company representatives, city officials, and affected employees. The intent is to engage in a fun and creative manner to transcend our disciplines and habits of communication, and challenge our research community to ask ourselves: what does our collective nanoEHS knowledge allow us to say, specific to nanomaterials, in response to a hypothetical real-world scenario?

Teams will each prepare a 5-minute oral response (no PowerPoint) citing what they believe are the most important issues to discuss with respect to the potential exposures and hazards associated with the event.

After all teams have presented their prepared remarks, each team will send 1-2 representatives forward to participate in the mock question/answer portion of the briefings. The questions will be delivered by stakeholder representatives, and will be chosen such that they are highly relevant to the nanoEHS subject matter expertise as opposed to an emergency response focus.

Broadly speaking, they are likely to inquire about:

  • What was spilled?
  • Where is it? In the river? The banks? How long will it be there?
  • Is it dangerous for my pet to drink the water? Or to drinking water?
  • What are the risks we should worry about?
  • What is the difference between a regular pesticide and a nanopesticide?

Company Briefing – nanoCu powder spill on the loading dock

Stakeholders: Company reps, city officials, affected employees

Example questions:

  • What pathways should employees be worried about having experienced exposures?
  • Where will the nanoCu go if we simply wash off the concrete with water, and what could happen?

Context Beyond Our nanoEHS Research Focus(i.e. Important but not in our scope)
Broader list of potential questions in response to an incident involving nanomaterials


A supporting set of reference resources for participants to utilize for the scrimmage and related actions.