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Chemosphere. 2013 Apr;91(4):536-44. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.12.033. Epub 2013 Jan 26.

Effects of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles on green algae under visible, UVA, and UVB irradiations: no evidence of enhanced algal toxicity under UV pre-irradiation.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Konkuk University, 1 Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-701, Republic of Korea.


Some metal oxide nanoparticles are photoreactive, thus raising concerns regarding phototoxicity. This study evaluated ecotoxic effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles and titanium dioxide nanoparticles to the green algae Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata under visible, UVA, and UVB irradiation conditions. The nanoparticles were prepared in algal test medium, and the test units were pre-irradiated by UV light in a photoreactor. Algal assays were also conducted with visible, UVA or UVB lights only without nanoparticles. Algal growth was found to be inhibited as the nanoparticle concentration increased, and ZnO NPs caused destabilization of the cell membranes. We also noted that the inhibitory effects on the growth of algae were not enhanced under UV pre-irradiation conditions. This phenomenon was attributed to the photocatalytic activities of ZnO NPs and TiO2 NPs in both the visible and UV regions. The toxicity of ZnO NPs was almost entirely the consequence of the dissolved free zinc ions. This study provides us with an improved understanding of toxicity of photoreactive nanoparticles as related to the effects of visible and UV lights.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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