Toxicity Testing of Pristine and Aged Silver Nanoparticles in Real Wastewaters Using Bioluminescent Pseudomonas putida

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2016 Mar 11;6(3):49. doi: 10.3390/nano6030049.


Impact of aging on nanoparticle toxicity in real matrices is scarcely investigated due to a lack of suitable methodologies. Herein, the toxicity of pristine and aged silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) to a bioluminescent Pseudomonas putida bioreporter was measured in spiked crude and final wastewater samples (CWs and FWs, respectively) collected from four wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Results showed lower toxicity of pristine Ag NPs in CWs than in FWs. The effect of the matrix on the eventual Ag NP toxicity was related to multiple physico-chemical parameters (biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS) pH, ammonia, sulfide and chloride) based on a multivariate analysis. However, no collection site effect was concluded. Aged Ag NPs (up to eight weeks) were found less toxic than pristine Ag NPs in CWs; evident increased aggregation and decreased dissolution were associated with aging. However, Ag NPs exhibited consistent toxicity in FWs despite aging; comparable results were obtained in artificial wastewater (AW) simulating effluent. The study demonstrates the potency of performing nanoparticle acute toxicity testing in real and complex matrices such as wastewaters using relevant bacterial bioreporters.

Keywords: aging; bacterial bioreporter; bioluminescence; ecotoxicity; nanoparticle; wastewater.