Aquatic Ecotoxicity Testing of Nanoparticles—The Quest To Disclose Nanoparticle Effects

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The number of products on the market containing engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) has increased significantly, and concerns have been raised regarding their ecotoxicological effects. Environmental safety assessments as well as relevant and reliable ecotoxicological data are required for the safe and sustainable use of ENPs. Although the number of publications on the ecotoxicological effects and uptake of ENPs is rapidly expanding, the applicability of the reported data for hazard assessment is questionable. A major knowledge gap is whether nanoparticle effects occur when test organisms are exposed to ENPs in aquatic test systems. Filling this gap is not straightforward, because of the broad range of ENPs and the different behavior of ENPs compared to “ordinary” (dissolved) chemicals in the ecotoxicity test systems. The risk of generating false negatives, and false positives, in the currently used tests is high, and in most cases difficult to assess. This Review outlines some of the pitfalls in the aquatic toxicity testing of ENPs which may lead to misinterpretation of test results. Response types are also proposed to reveal potential nanoparticle effects in the aquatic test organisms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAngewandte Chemie International Edition
Issue number49
Pages (from-to)15224-15239
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry
  • cell toxicity
  • nanoparticles
  • toxicity

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