Biotic and abiotic interactions in aquatic microcosms determine fate and toxicity of Ag nanoparticles: Part 2-toxicity and Ag speciation

Audrey J. Bone, Benjamin P. Colman, Andreas P. Gondikas, Kim M. Newton, Katherine H. Harrold, Rose M. Cory, Jason M. Unrine, Stephen J. Klaine, Cole W. Matson, Richard T. Di Giulio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


To study the effects of complex environmental media on silver nanoparticle (AgNP) toxicity, AgNPs were added to microcosms with freshwater sediments and two species of aquatic plants (Potamogeton diversifolius and Egeria densa), followed by toxicity testing with microcosm surface water. Microcosms were designed with four environmental matrices in order to determine the contribution of each environmental compartment to changes in toxicity: water only (W), water + sediment (WS), water + plants (WP), and water + plants + sediment (WPS). Silver treatments included AgNPs with two different coatings, gum arabic (GA-AgNPs) or polyvinylpyrollidone (PVP-AgNPs), as well as AgNO3. Water samples taken from the microcosms at 24 h postdosing were used in acute toxicity tests with two standard model organisms, early life stage zebrafish (Danio rerio) and Daphnia magna. Speciation of Ag in these samples was analyzed using Ag L3-edge X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES). Silver speciation patterns for the nanoparticle treatments varied significantly by coating type. While PVP-AgNPs were quite stable and resisted transformation across all matrices (>92.4% Ag(0)), GA-AgNP speciation patterns suggest significantly higher transformation rates, especially in treatments with plants (<69.2% and <58.8% Ag(0) in WP and WPS, respectively) and moderately increased transformation with sediments (<85.6% Ag(0)). Additionally, the presence of plants in the microcosms (with and without sediments) reduced both the concentration of Ag in the water column and toxicity for all Ag treatments. Reductions in toxicity may have been related to decreased water column concentrations as well as changes in the surface chemistry of the particles induced by organic substances released from the plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6925-6933
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 3 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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