Sediment is recognized as a major environmental sink for contaminants, including engineered nanoparticles (NPs). Consequently, sediment-living organisms are likely to be exposed to NPs. There is evidence that both accumulation and toxicity of metal NPs to sediment-dwellers increase with decreasing particle size, although NP size does not always predict effects. In contrast, not much is known about the influence of particle shape on bioaccumulation and toxicity. Here, we examined the influence of copper oxide (CuO) NP shape (rods, spheres, and platelets) on their bioaccumulation kinetics and toxicity to the sediment-dwelling gastropod, Potamopyrgus antipodarum. The influence of Cu added as CuCl2 (i.e., aqueous Cu treatment) was also examined. Exposure to sediment mixed with aqueous Cu or with different-shaped CuO NPs at an average measured exposure concentration of 207μg Cu per g dry weight sediment for 14 days did not significantly affect snail mortality. However, growth decreased for snails exposed to sediment amended with CuO NP spheres and platelets. P. antipodarum accumulated Cu from all Cu forms/shapes in significant amounts compared to control snails. In addition, once accumulated, Cu was efficiently retained (i.e., elimination rate constants were generally not significantly different from zero). Consequently, snails are likely to concentrate Cu over time, from both aqueous and NP sources, resulting in a high potential for toxicity.
- Particle shape
- Sediment exposure