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Long-term outdoor lysimeter study with cerium dioxide nanomaterial

: Hoppe, M.; Schlich, K.; Wielinski, J.; Köser, J.; Rückamp, D.; Kaegi, R.; Hund-Rinke, K.

Fulltext ()

NanoImpact 14 (2019), Art. 100170, 9 pp.
ISSN: 2452-0748
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

Fate and impact of cerium dioxide nanomaterials (CeO2 NM) in soil remains uncertain. Most of the recent environmental studies used high doses of CeO2 NM in short-term laboratory experiments and stated soil as large sink for NM. Recent studies covering the life cycle of plants found evidence for particle uptake in crop plants, and triggered concern about NM entering the food chain. Here, we present a 25 months outdoor lysimeter study that investigates the translocation, biological impact, and transformation of CeO2 NM in soils cultivated with different crops (wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), canola (Brassica napus L.), and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)). Low doses of CeO2 NM (NM-212, 10 and 50 mg CeO2 NM kg−1 soil) were applied to a Cambisol by sewage sludge or artificial rainwater. To simulate ploughing, the CeO2 NM was mixed into the first 20 cm of the lysimeter soil. Three weeks after the NM application by sewage sludge and five days after the latest NM application by artificial rainwater wheat seeds were sown.
We found no vertical Ce translocation to deeper soil layers as well as negligible release of Ce into percolating water, confirming that soil is a sink for CeO2 NM. Furthermore, no inhibition of the NM sensitive ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AOB) was observed which implies a low bioavailability of CeO2 NM in soil. The detected Ce root uptake for canola (Ce < 35.7 mg kg−1) and barley (Ce < 61.8 mg kg−1) indicates that physico-chemical conditions in the rhizosphere or the aging of the NM in soil can remobilize the applied CeO2 NM to some extent. One can speculate that the obtained reduction of Ce4+ to Ce3+ (≈ 50% after 25 months) was coupled to different conditions (ionic strength, pH, water content, soil organic matter content) in the rhizosphere and necessary for the root accumulation of Ce.
Due to negligible mobility in the soil-water interface, as well as non-toxicity to AOB, the environmental risk of the tested CeO2 NM appears to be low, compared to other highly mobile emergent pollutants. Nonetheless, further long-term investigations need to focus on the speciation and localization of NM in plants to clarify uptake and impact of NM to crops.