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Effects of silver nanoparticles and silver nitrate in the earthworm reproduction test

: Schlich, Karsten; Klawonn, Thorsten; Terytze, K.; Hund-Rinke, K.


Environmental toxicology and chemistry 32 (2013), No.1, pp.181-188
ISSN: 0730-7268
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()
silver nanoparticles; toxicity; accumulation; Eisenia andrei; reproduction

The widespread use of silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs), for example, in textiles and cleaning products, means that they are likely to reach the environment via biosolids or the effluent from wastewater treatment plants. The aim of the present study was to determine the ecotoxicity of Ag-NPs in the earthworm reproduction test using Eisenia andrei. In addition to the usual endpoints, the authors also investigated the uptake and accumulation of Ag by adult earthworms and the concentration of free Ag+ in soil pore water. Silver nanoparticles and Ag nitrate showed similar toxicities in the earthworm reproduction test. The uptake of Ag from Ag-NPs in the earthworm was slightly higher than the uptake of Ag from Ag nitrate. Spiked soils showed a concentration-dependent effect on reproduction, but there was no concentration-dependent increase in the amount of Ag in earthworm tissues. The authors noted a concentration-dependent increase in the levels of free Ag+ in the soil pore water regardless of the Ag source. The number of juveniles is a more suitable endpoint than biomass or mortality. The uptake of Ag does not appear to inhibit reproduction. Instead, inhibition seems to reflect Ag+ released into the soil pore water, which affects cocoons and juveniles in the soil. Analysis of transformed Ag-NPs after purification in wastewater treatment plants would provide additional information.