“Evaluating the Short-and Long-term Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials on Freshwater Ecosystems”
Category: Water Conservation, Health
Nanomaterials have unique chemical and physical characteristics in comparison to their macro-sized counterparts. These distinctive properties are valuable for commercial and industrial purposes, and have lead to significant increases in economic investment in nanotechnology over the past ten years. However, the same properties that make these materials valuable also make their transport and behavior in biological systems difficult to understand and predict. In addition, as investments in nanotechnology continue to increase, these materials are more likely to end up in aquatic environments as waste.
This project seeks to investigate the potential toxicity of various types of nanomaterials on freshwater ecosystems using the model organism Daphnia magna. Impacts on daphnid populations will be investigated by evaluating short and long term exposures of nanomaterials on daphnid mortality and reproduction. In addition, the impact of nanomaterial exposure on genes involved in growth, reproduction, and stress will be assessed. Genes that are sensitive to nanomaterial exposure could be used in the future as biomarkers for early indicators of environmental stress to nanomaterials. The goals of this project are to 1) compare short and long term toxicity testing methods for nanomaterials, 2) discover cheaper and more sensitive ways to evaluate nanomaterial toxicity through gene expression, and 3) characterize different nanomaterials according to their chemical profiles and levels of toxicity. This research will provide insight for how nanomaterials can be incorporated into industries without causing harm to workers, consumers, and receiving environments.