Once released into the aquatic environment, nanoparticles (NPs) are expected to interact (e.g., dissolve, agglomerate, settle), with important consequences for particle fate and toxicity. However, a clear understanding of how environmental factors influence the toxicity and fate of NPs in the environment is still in its infancy. In this study, a second order central composite circumscribed design (CCCD) was employed to systematically explore how different combinations of pH, hardness, and natural organic matter (NOM) in receiving water affect the hydrodynamic diameter, surface charge (zeta potential), and release of free Cu2+ from CuO-NPs under a range of environmentally realistic conditions. The results clearly showed that all three CuO-NP properties varied markedly as functions of pH, hardness and dissolved NOM, confirming that agglomeration and the extent of release of free Cu2+ largely depend on the surrounding environmental conditions. The response of hydrodynamic diameter, but not zeta potential, to water quality parameters was highly time dependent, showing very different patterns on day 2 and day 10. The approach used in this study can contribute to improving understanding of how, and to what extent, environmental factors affect the physicochemical properties of CuO-NPs once they enter aquatic environments. This understanding can help to predict the conditions under which CuO-NPs are likely to become problematic, which can inform management and mitigation actions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors are entirely responsible for the content and writing of the paper. This study was funded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln .
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.
- Agglomeration behavior
- Central composite circumscribed design
- Copper oxide nanoparticles
- Release of free Cu