In parallel with the growing use of nanoparticle-containing products, their release into the environment over the coming years is expected to increase significantly. With many large population centres located in near-coastal areas, the potential environmental load of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in estuarine and coastal waters over the coming years is enormous. However, there is little data on how such aged ENPs interact with the wide range of diverse organisms in brackish and coastal waters.
The results from this project are providing a systematic overview of the behaviour of selected ENPs in brackish and marine waters as a function of abiotic parameters. The ability of different types of natural organic matter in different strength electrolytes to (de)stabilise ENPs provide key baseline data from which to probe ENPs toxicity to biota across different trophic levels. This is giving for the first time an indication of the sensitivity of selected organism towards these ENPs and hence allowing guidance on maximum permissible levels in specific environmental compartments. The tests used in this work are intended to be harmonised to international best practice and hence contribute to efforts to achieve grouping and read-across of ENP behaviour and toxicity.
Ultimately, this interdisciplinary project will provide the basis for gaining an understanding of the role and fate of emerging contaminants in sensitive aquatic environments, will support capacity building by bringing together research groups from different institutions and will develop a broad range of key transferrable skills in young researchers in the field of environmental research.
Lara Jurković, Ivana Hazdovac, Dijana Pavičić-Hamer, Lorena Perić, Bojan Hamer, Biljana Balen, Petra Peharec Štefanić, Petra Cvjetko, Petra Burić, Ines Kovačić