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The behaviour, fate and ecotoxicological effects of silver nanoparticles in estuarine and coastal waters

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Nanoparticle pollution on the rise

Scientists have shown that toxic silver nanoparticles are affecting marine ecosystems.

Climate Change and Environment

Silver is a toxic element that is increasingly used in for consumer goods. Toxic silver nanoparticles may pose a threat to the health of our oceans, yet little is known about how we can control them. Researchers from the MARAGNANO (The behaviour, fate and ecotoxicological effects of silver nanoparticles in estuarine and coastal waters) project spent the last two years studying the behaviour, fate and toxic effects of silver nanoparticles in marine ecosystems. The project used both simulated and real marine environments to develop models that describe the movement of these nanoparticles in marine systems. First, the MARAGNANO project manufactured and tested silver nanoparticles with different core sizes and coatings, to see how they react in different environmental conditions. The coating of silver nanoparticles had the biggest effect on the behaviour of the particles and their uptake by marine organisms. Researchers found that marine phytoplankton is particularly affected by silver nanoparticles. The silver nanoparticles had a toxic effect on the small but ecologically important organisms, reducing chlorophyll content by half. To MARAGNANO also developed a new method to test the concentration of silver nanoparticles in complex marine environments. Using established theories, complex mathematical equations and their new method, scientists created a behaviour model for the silver nanoparticles. This model and the other results of this project shed some light on the best ways to manufacture silver nanoparticles to reduce marine pollution. The study also provides valuable instructions on how to measure silver nanoparticle pollution in the marine environment.


Silver, nanoparticles, marine ecosystems, oceans, models

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