Are long-term exposure studies needed? Short-term toxicokinetic model predicts the uptake of metal nanoparticles in earthworms after nine months.Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2021 Sep 01; 220:112371.EE
Uptake of most metal nanoparticles (NPs) in organisms is assumed to be mainly driven by the bioavailability of the released ions, as has been verified in controlled and short-term exposure tests. However, the changeability of NPs and the dynamic processes which NPs undergo in the soil environment, bring uncertainty regarding their interactions with soil organisms over a long period of time. To assess the potential impacts of long-term exposure scenarios on the toxicokinetic of metal NPs, earthworms Eisenia fetida were exposed to soils spiked with pristine Ag-NP, aged Ag-NP (Ag2S-NP) and ionic Ag for nine months, and results were compared to those from a similar short-term (28 days) experiment, conducted under similar conditions. Overall, there were no statistical differences between long-term accumulation patterns in earthworms exposed to pristine Ag-NP and AgNO3, while for Ag2S-NP, the amount of Ag internalized after 9 months was five times lower than for the other treatments. Average Ag concentrations in soil pore water in all treatments did not change over time, however the soil pH decreased and electrical conductivity increased in all treatments. Metallothionein concentrations in exposed earthworms were not statistically different from levels in untreated earthworms. Finally, the short-term toxicokinetic models predicted the bioaccumulation in earthworms exposed to Ag-NP, AgNO3 after nine months on the whole. Although the bioaccumulation for Ag2S-NPs was somewhat under-predicted, the rate of accumulation of Ag2S-NPs is much lower than that of Ag-NPs or AgNO3 and thus potentially of lower concern. Nevertheless, better understanding about the exposure kinetics of Ag2S-NP would help to address potential nano-specific toxicokinetic and toxicodynamics, also of other sulfidized metal NPs.