High surface adsorption properties of carbon-based nanomaterials are responsible for mortality, swimming inhibition, and biochemical responses in Artemia salina larvae

Mesarič T, Gambardella C, Milivojević T, Faimali M, Drobne D, Falugi C, Makovec D, Jemec A, Sepčić K
[ pdf ] [ site ] Aquatic Toxicology, 2015

We investigated the effects of three different carbon-based nanomaterials on brine shrimp (Artemia salina) larvae. The larvae were exposed to different concentrations of carbon black, graphene oxide, and multiwall carbon nanotubes for 48 h, and observed using phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy. Acute (mortality) and behavioural (swimming speed alteration) responses and cholinesterase, glutathione-S-transferase and catalase enzyme activities were evaluated. These nanomaterials were ingested and concentrated in the gut, and attached onto the body surface of the A. salina larvae. This attachment was responsible for concentration–dependent inhibition of larval swimming, and partly for alterations in the enzyme activities, that differed according to the type of tested nanomaterials. No lethal effects were observed up to 0.5 mg/mL carbon black and 0.1 mg/mL multiwall carbon nanotubes, while graphene oxide showed a threshold whereby it had no effects at 0.6 mg/mL, and more than 90% mortality at 0.7 mg/mL. Risk quotients calculated on the basis of predicted environmental concentrations indicate that carbon black and multiwall carbon nanotubes currently do not pose a serious risk to the marine environment, however, if uncontrolled release of nanomaterials continues, this scenario can rapidly change.