Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are often suspended in Pluronic® surfactants by sonication, which may confound toxicity studies because sonication of surfactants can create degradation products that are toxic to mammalian cells. Here, we present a toxicity assessment of Pluronic® F-108 with and without suspended CNTs using embryonic zebrafish as an in vivo model. Pluronic® sonolytic degradation products were toxic to zebrafish embryos just as they were to mammalian cells. When the toxic Pluronic® fragments were removed, there was little effect of pristine multi-walled CNTs (pMWNTs), carboxylated MWNTs (cMWNTs) or pristine single-walled carbon nanotubes (pSWNTs) on embryo viability and development, even at high concentrations. A gel electrophoretic method coupled with Raman imaging was developed to measure the bioaccumulation of CNTs by zebrafish embryos, and dose-dependent uptake of CNTs was observed. These data indicate that embryos accumulate pMWNTs, cMWNTs and pSWNTs yet there is very little embryo toxicity.
Keywords: Environmental toxicology; ecotoxicology; nanotoxicology; nanotubes; toxicology.