Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 17, pp 13212–13224 | Cite as

Assessing the ecotoxicity of metal nano-oxides with potential for wastewater treatment

  • V. Nogueira
  • I. Lopes
  • T. A. P. Rocha-Santos
  • M. G. Rasteiro
  • N. Abrantes
  • F. Gonçalves
  • A. M. V. M. Soares
  • A. C. Duarte
  • R. Pereira
Research Article


The rapid development of nanotechnology and the increasing use of nanomaterials (NMs) raise concern about their fate and potential effects in the environment, especially for those that could be used for remediation purposes and that will be intentionally released to the environment. Despite the remarkable emerging literature addressing the biological effects of NMs to aquatic organisms, the existing information is still scarce and contradictory. Therefore, aimed at selecting NMs for the treatment of organic and inorganic effluents, we assessed the potential toxicity of NiO (100 and 10–20 nm), Fe2O3 (≈85 × 425 nm), and TiO2 (<25 nm), to a battery of aquatic organisms: Vibrio fischeri, Raphidocelis subcapitata, Lemna minor, Daphnia magna, Brachionus plicatilis, and Artemia salina. Also a mutagenic test was performed with two Salmonella typhimurium strains. Suspensions of each NM, prepared with the different test media, were characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and eletrophoretic light scattering (ELS). For the assays with marine species, no toxicity was observed for all the compounds. In opposite, statistically significant effects were produced on all freshwater species, being D. magna the most sensitive organism. Based on the results of this study, the tested NMs can be classified in a decreasing order of toxicity NiO (100 nm) > NiO (10–20 nm) > TiO2 (<25 nm) > Fe2O3, allowing to infer that apparently Fe2O3 NMs seems to be the one with less risks for receiving aquatic systems.


Ecotoxicity Aquatic organisms Nanomaterials Sublethal and lethal effects Wastewater treatment 



This work was developed under Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia scope research grants (SFRH/BPD/65410/2009 and SFRH/BD/65782/2009), and through FSE and POPH funds (Programa Ciência 2007).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Nogueira
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Lopes
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. A. P. Rocha-Santos
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. G. Rasteiro
    • 4
  • N. Abrantes
    • 1
    • 5
  • F. Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. M. V. M. Soares
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. C. Duarte
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. Pereira
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.CESAM (Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies)University of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  4. 4.CIEPQPF - Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, Polo IIUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Environment and PlanningUniversity of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  7. 7.Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR)University of PortoPortoPortugal

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