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PLoS One. 2013 Oct 7;8(10):e75026. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075026. eCollection 2013.

Comparative toxicity assessment of nanosilver on three Daphnia species in acute, chronic and multi-generation experiments.

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Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The antibacterial properties of nanosilver have led to a versatile application spectrum including medical purposes and personal care products. However, the increasing use of nanosilver has raised concerns about its environmental impacts. Long-term exposure studies with aquatic invertebrates are essential to assess possible adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems. In the present study, acute (48 h), chronic (21 d) and long-term effects of nanosilver (primary size 15 nm) on five successive generations of three Daphnia species (D. magna, D. pulex, and D. galeata) were investigated. Acute EC50 values of nanosilver were 121 µg Ag L(-1) for D. magna being the least sensitive species and 8.95 and 13.9 µg Ag L(-1) for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Chronic exposure provided EC10 values of 0.92 µg Ag L(-1) for D. magna showing the most sensitive chronic reaction and 2.25 and 3.45 µg Ag L(-1) for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Comparative exposure to AgNO3 revealed a generally higher toxicity of the soluble form of silver. The multi-generation experiments resulted in effects on the population level for all tested species. Exposure of D. magna indicated an increased toxicity of nanosilver in the fifth generation of animals exposed to 10 µg Ag L(-1). Neonates from pre-exposed parental daphnids did not completely recover when transferred into clean water. Exposure of D. pulex and D. galeata revealed not only increasing toxicity in some generations, but also greater tolerance to nanosilver. This study contributes to the assessment of the risk potential of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems. It shows that effects of nanosilver vary within one genus and change with exposure duration. Therefore, long-term studies considering different aquatic species are needed to better understand the possible effects of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems.

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