Indexed on: 15 Aug '13Published on: 15 Aug '13Published in: Environmental Science & Technology
Manufactured nanoparticles (NPs) can associate with toxicants in the aqueous phase and these associations can influence the environmental fate, transport, and bioavailability of these toxicants in organisms. Dissolved metals (e.g., Hg(2+)) can be toxic in aquatic organisms, and, if metals associate with NPs in the aqueous phase, changes in bioavailability and toxicology may result. Here we demonstrated that Hg(2+) (25 μg/L) can associate with aqueous (C60)n (termed nC60) and increase aggregate size and settlement of nC60 aggregates out of the water column over 24 h. The concentration of C60 was directly related to concentration of Hg for nC60 aggregates that settled to the bottom of the container. Bioavailability of Hg(2+) in larval zebrafish Danio rerio, evaluated by assessment of metallothionein gene (mt2) expression, was reduced in the water column when nC60was present. However, zebrafish residing at the container bottom and exposed to nC60 aggregates with associated Hg(2+) had elevated expression of mt2 when compared to fish exposed to 25 μg/L Hg(2+) preparations without nC60, which indicated nC60 led to a localized increase in Hg(2+) bioavailability. Results indicate that aqueous nC60 can sorb Hg(2+), transport Hg(2+) to substrate surface, and increase concentrations of bioavailable Hg(2+) in organisms located where settled nC60 aggregates accumulate.