Assessing toxicity of copper nanoparticles across five cladoceran species

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2015 Aug;34(8):1863-9. doi: 10.1002/etc.3000. Epub 2015 Jun 22.


As a result of ever increasing applications, nanoparticles will eventually end up in the environment. However, currently no common principle has been established to help understand the toxicity of nanoparticles (NPs) across species. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the potential risks of nanoparticles to untested species in the environment. The authors exposed 4 different sizes of copper nanoparticles (CuNPs) and 1 submicron-sized copper particle to 5 cladoceran species (Daphnia magna, Daphnia pulex, Daphnia galeata, Ceriodaphnia dubia, and Chydorus sphaericus) to investigate whether morphological attributes of species can help to assess the acute toxicity of CuNPs across species. The results showed that rod-shaped CuNPs caused much lower toxicity to all species than spherical CuNPs. Both the particles and ions contributed to the total toxicity of the CuNP suspensions. Moreover, the toxicity caused by particles in 5 different copper suspensions increases with decreasing body length, surface area, and body volume of neonates of 5 cladoceran species. Especially the correlations between body volume of the 5 cladoceran species tested and the corresponding toxicity caused by 5 different CuNPs were statistically significant, and in all cases radj (2) was higher than 0.51 (p < 0.001). The highest correlation was found between body volume and the toxicity of the 78-nm CuNPs (radj (2) = 0.95, p < 0.001). To conclude, the correlations between attributes of cladoceran species and the toxicity of CuNPs reported in the present study evoke the possibility to assess and extrapolate the toxicity of nanoparticles across species with similar attributes.

Keywords: Acute toxicity; Attributes of species; Cladoceran species; Copper nanoparticle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cladocera / drug effects*
  • Cladocera / growth & development
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Daphnia / drug effects
  • Daphnia / growth & development
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Metal Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Particle Size
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute


  • Copper