Nematode-based biomarkers as critical risk indicators on assessing the impact of silver nanoparticles on soil ecosystems
Abstract Soil contamination caused by silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) released from sewage treatment plants (STPs) is of great public concern. Understanding the relationships between the physicochemical properties of AgNPs and their toxicity is critical for environmental and health risk analysis. Here we presented an approach for rapidly screening and assessing the potential toxicity risk of AgNPs in general and sludge-treated soils based on the nematode Caenhorhabditis elegans -based probabilistic risk assessment framework. The soil environmental risks were estimated depending on the characteristics of AgNPs and geographic regions. We assessed the risk for soils exceeding a threshold of C. elegans neurotoxicity based on the statistical models. Our results indicated that locomotion inhibition of C. elegans was depending on surface properties, diameter, and exposure time of AgNPs. Here we showed that the overall sewage sludge-released AgNPs-associated soil contamination risk was very low among Europe, U.S., and Switzerland. However, large production and widespread use of AgNPs are highly likely to pose long-term ecotoxicity risk on general and sludge-treated soils, particularly for 26nm citrate-coated AgNPs. Our approach of integrating probabilistic risk model and C. elegans -based ecological indicator provides an effective tool to rapidly screen and assess the impacts of STPs-released AgNPs on soil environment. We suggest that C. elegans as a proxy for estimating soil risk metrics can help develop methods of management for mitigating the metal NPs-induced toxicity on terrestrial ecosystems. Highlights Locomotion of C. elegans can serve as a risk indicator in AgNPs-contaminated soil ecosystems. C. elegans -based probabilistic risk assessment framework is developed. Nematode-based biomarkers can detect metal-based NPs-induced toxicity on terrestrial ecosystems.
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