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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Environmental Impacts by Fragments Released from Nanoenabled Products: A Multiassay, Multimaterial Exploration by the SUN Approach.

  • Author(s): Amorim, Mónica JB
  • Lin, Sijie
  • Schlich, Karsten
  • Navas, José M
  • Brunelli, Andrea
  • Neubauer, Nicole
  • Vilsmeier, Klaus
  • Costa, Anna L
  • Gondikas, Andreas
  • Xia, Tian
  • Galbis, Liliana
  • Badetti, Elena
  • Marcomini, Antonio
  • Hristozov, Danail
  • Kammer, Frank von der
  • Hund-Rinke, Kerstin
  • Scott-Fordsmand, Janeck J
  • Nel, André
  • Wohlleben, Wendel
  • et al.

Nanoenabled products (NEPs) have numerous outdoor uses in construction, transportation or consumer scenarios, and there is evidence that their fragments are released in the environment at low rates. We hypothesized that the lower surface availability of NEPs fragment reduced their environmental effects with respect to pristine nanomaterials. This hypothesis was explored by testing fragments generated by intentional micronisation ("the SUN approach"; Nowack et al. Meeting the Needs for Released Nanomaterials Required for Further Testing: The SUN Approach. Environmental Science & Technology, 2016 (50), 2747). The NEPs were composed of four matrices (epoxy, polyolefin, polyoxymethylene, and cement) with up to 5% content of three nanomaterials (carbon nanotubes, iron oxide, and organic pigment). Regardless of the type of nanomaterial or matrix used, it was observed that nanomaterials were only partially exposed at the NEP fragment surface, indicating that mostly the intrinsic and extrinsic properties of the matrix drove the NEP fragment toxicity. Ecotoxicity in multiple assays was done covering relevant media from terrestrial to aquatic, including sewage treatment plant (biological activity), soil worms (Enchytraeus crypticus), and fish (zebrafish embryo and larvae and trout cell lines). We designed the studies to explore the possible modulation of ecotoxicity by nanomaterial additives in plastics/polymer/cement, finding none. The results support NEPs grouping by the matrix material regarding ecotoxicological effect during the use phase. Furthermore, control results on nanomaterial-free polymer fragments representing microplastic had no significant adverse effects up to the highest concentration tested.

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