Chronic ZnO-NPs exposure at environmentally relevant concentrations results in metabolic and locomotive toxicities in Caenorhabditis elegans.Environ Pollut. 2017 Jan; 220(Pt B):1456-1464.EP
ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) are emerging contaminants that raise the concerns of potential risk in the aquatic environment. It has been estimated that the environmental ZnO-NPs concentration is 76 μg/l in the aquatic environment. Our aim was to determine the aquatic toxicity of ZnO-NPs with chronic exposure at environmentally relevant concentrations using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Two simulated environmentally relevant mediums-moderately hard reconstituted water (EPA water) and simulated soil pore water (SSPW)-were used to represent surface water and pore water in sediment, respectively. The results showed that the ZnO-NPs in EPA water has a much smaller hydrodynamic diameter than that in SSPW. Although the ionic release of Zn ions increased time-dependently in both mediums, the Zn ions concentrations in EPA water increased two-fold more than that in SSPW at 48 h and 72 h. The ZnO-NPs did not induce growth defects or decrease head thrashes in C. elegans in either media. However, chronic exposure to ZnO-NPs caused a significant reduction in C. elegans body bends in EPA water even with a relatively low concentration (0.05 μg/l); similar results were not observed in SSPW. Moreover, at the same concentrations (50 and 500 μg/l), body bends in C. elegans were reduced more severely in ZnO-NPs than in ZnCl2 in EPA water. The ATP levels were consistently and significantly decreased, and ROS was induced after ZnO-NPs exposure (50 and 500 μg/l) in EPA water. Our results provide evidences that chronic exposure to ZnO-NPs under environmentally relevant concentrations causes metabolic and locomotive toxicities implicating the potential ecotoxicity of ZnO-NPs at low concentrations in aquatic environments.