TINE (Transatlantic Initiative for Nanotechnology and the Environment)

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Shore

Abstract

We have developed a life cycle perspective inspired conceptual model (CM) that suggests the importance of terrestrial ecosystems as a major repository of ZnO, TiO2, and Ag (Tier 1) manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) introduced via the land application of MNM-containing biosolids. We propose to investigate the transport, fate, behavior, bioavailability, and effects of MNMs in(to) agroecosystems under environmentally realistic scenarios organized around three key hypotheses: Hypothesis (H1) Surface chemistry is the primary factor influencing the fate and transport of MNMs in the terrestrial environment as well as the bioavailability and effects to biological receptors; Hypothesis (H2) Once released to the environment, pristine MNM surfaces will be modified by interactions with organic and inorganic ligands (macromolecules) or via other biogeochemical transformations (aging effects forming a-MNMs); Hypothesis (H3) Ecoreceptors will respond to interactions with pristine metal and metal oxide MNMs, a-MNMs, and/or dissolved constituent metal ions and bulk oxides by specific ecological and toxicogenomic responses that will reflect their combined effects. Experimental Approach: Detailed physicochemical characterization will be conducted on Tier 1 and Tier 2 (CeO2, carbon nanotubes) MNMs and a-MNMs produced by simulating aging and these materials will be utilized in column transport (Tier 1 and 2), bioavailability, and effects (Tier 1) studies to key ecoreceptors (bacteria, soil invertebrates, and plants). Data needed to calibrate and validate the pBRM will be collected for Tier 1 MNMs using a subset of ecoreceptor species. The CM and model results from the simulated aging of MNMs will then be validated by repeating studies of Tier 1 MNMs subjected to actual WWTP using a pilot scale WWT facility. To facilitate these and future investigations of MNMs under environmentally relevant scenarios, novel in situ tools will be developed. Expected Results: The proposed research will generate among the first data on the transformations of important classes of MNMs subjected to WWTP as well as those added to and aged in soil. These data will be critical for evaluating potential direct and indirect ecological and human health risks of MNMs introduced to agroecosystems. Data generated on the simulated aged materials and on the MNM containing biosolids and soils to test H1 & H2, may indicate that the permutations of MNM properties required to be experimentally considered under realistic environmental scenarios can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, the results of this work will provide the first validation of using gene and protein expression profiles generated in laboratory controlled experiments as an indicator of exposure or effects under environmentally realistic conditions. An important output from the proposed research and modeling efforts will be the development of first generation validated predictive models of the environmental fate, behavior, bioavailability, and effects of several important classes of MNMs in agroecosystems.
 
Description Our aim was to investigate whether biosolids (sewage sludge) from sewage treatment plants receiving nanoparticles might pose a threat to the health of the environment. Biosolids are produced during the treatment (purification) of raw sewage from homes, factories and other places such as offices and hospitals. This treatment is needed to make the wastewater suitable to be discharged into rivers, but the biosolids produced need to be disposed of. One way of doing this is to spread the biosolids on agricultural land, where they gradually break down and release useful nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus into the soil. However, biosolids also accumulate other chemicals from the wastewater. These can include nanoparticles such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and silver. These nanoparticles may come from factories, for example factories making nanoparticles. They can also come from the home, as nanoparticles may be used in products such as suntan lotions (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and socks (silver), or from hospitals (silver nanoparticles may be used, for example, in wound dressings). Land spreading of biosolids containing nanoparticles may cause them to accumulate in the soil over time, if the biosolids are spread to the same land many times over. Eventually, this might cause the health of the soil to decline, for example by affecting the bacteria, plants and animals that live in the soil. Regulations exist on the accumulation in soils of some metals, such as zinc, from biosolids spreading, and currently these regulations also include accumulation of the metal in nanoparticles. However, because the metal nanoparticles are chemically different from other forms of metals going into wastewater treatment plants, it is possible that they pose different risks to the other forms of metals. Because the use of nanoparticles is increasing rapidly, it is important to assess their risks to soil health.
We assessed the risks of zinc oxide, silver and titanium dioxide nanoparticles to biosolids by firstly making mixtures of an agricultural soil with biosolids that were produced by adding the nanoparticles to the inflow of a sewage treatment works. For comparison we also made two other sets of mixtures: mixtures produced using normal (salt) forms of zinc and silver and a non-nanoparticle form of titanium dioxide (titanium does not dissolve in water so we could not use a salt form for the comparison), and mixtures using biosolids produced without adding any metals or nanoparticles. We placed earthworms in the mixtures for eight weeks and measured their survival, their reproduction rates and the amounts of silver, zinc and titanium in their tissues at the end of the test. We also measured the concentrations of zinc and silver in water samples extracted from the mixtures at the end of the test.
The earthworms reproduced less in the mixtures containing either the metal nanoparticles or salt/bulk metals, compared to the mixture with no added nanoparticles or metals. However, the earthworms reproduced less in the mixture containing nanoparticles than they did in the mixture containing salt/bulk metals, even though the concentrations of metals in both mixtures were similar. The earthworms did not appear to take up titanium from the mixtures, suggesting that titanium dioxide was not having an effect on them. The earthworms also accumulated more silver from the mixture containing nanoparticles than they did from the mixture containing salt/bulk metals. The earthworms accumulated similar amounts of zinc from both the mixtures, which appeared to be due to their ability to control the amount of zinc in their tissues. The concentrations of silver and zinc in the extracted waters were similar for both mixtures. This suggests that the actual forms of silver and zinc in the two types of mixture are similar. This was also suggested by measurements on the biosolids, made by our collaborators in TINE, which showed that the chemical forms of silver and zinc in both types of biosolid were similar. Therefore, it is not clear why the earthworms are affected more in the mixtures made with biosolids containing nanoparticles. We are hypothesising that there are differences in the physical form of the zinc and/or the silver in the mixtures that result in the differences in effects on the earthworms, although more research is needed to investigate this further.
Exploitation Route The results suggest that regulations on the amounts of metals allowed in agricultural soils after biosolids spreading may not be strict enough for biosolids that contain zinc and/or silver that have been derived from nanoparticles. Therefore, they have potentially important implications for stakeholders concerned with the management of the risks of biosolids spreading on land. These stakeholders will include policymakers concerned with setting regulations, and regulators concerned with implanting such regulations. These results could be taken forward by such stakeholders to assess whether current regulations and/or practice in biosolids spreading require amendment to account for the possible presence of nanoparticle-derived metals in such biosolids.
There is also a scientific need to build upon these findings. Firstly, there is a need to better establish whether or not both silver and zinc are making significant contributions to the observed effects, in order to focus future research efforts. Secondly, there is a need to better understand the mechanisms behind the effects. For example, are there significant differences in the physical or chemical forms of silver and zinc in biosolids, depending on whether they enter the sewage treatment system as nanoparticles or in other forms? Do any such differences influence the uptake of silver and/or zinc by earthworms, and do they influence the degree of effect seen as a result of uptake? Finally, do these findings also apply to other key components of soil ecosystems, such as microbial communities, thus suggesting a generally higher hazard due to metals in nanoparticulate form in biosolids? Therefore, there is considerable potential for these results to be used a starting point by researchers in nanoparticle physicochemistry and ecotoxicity to further develop understanding of the causes and extent of ecological effects due to silver and zinc in biosolids that have been derived from nanoparticles. Such research may ultimately feed into assessment and/or amendment of regulations concerning the spreading of biosolids to land.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment

 
Description This work investigated key aspects of the environmental behaviour of metallic nanomaterials, namely whether the nanomaterial nature of the material influences its environmental impact. The work provides evidence that the initial nanomaterial nature of a substance can influence its hazard via environmental exposure, even if the pristine material undergoes chemical transformation prior to its entry into the environment. This work has thus provided evidence for the need to consider nanoforms of materials such as silver and zinc as distinct entities within environmental and human health risk assessment. Such evidence is being used by national and supranational bodies (e.g. European Chemicals Agency, European Food Standards Agency) to develop guidelines for requirements on assessing exposure to, and risks of, material nanoforms. In the medium term, this is expected to impact wider society via changes in the volumes and types of nanomaterials used within consumer products, for example silver nanomaterial use to impregnate clothing as an antimicrobial product and zinc oxide nanomaterial use within sunscreens.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Title Bioavailablility and toxicity of nanomaterials in sewage sludge to earthworms 
Description The data comprise earthworm survival and weight change data after 28 days exposure to nanomaterials and reproduction data after 56 days exposure. Concentrations of zinc and silver in extracted soil pore water and ultra-filtered pore waters are reported as well as pH and dissolved organic carbon data. The body concentrations of zinc, silver and titanium in three earthworms from each replicate after 28 days exposure are included. The data were generated from a laboratory exposure experiment of earthworms (Eisenia fetida) to soil amended with sewage sludge. The sewage sludges were from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) treated with nanomaterials (ENMs) or metal/ionic salts. Sewage sludges were generated with either no metal added to the WWTP influent (control), ionic ZnO, AgNO3 and bulk (micron sized) TiO2 added (ionic metal-treated) or ZnO, Ag and TiO2 ENMs added (ENM-treated). A sandy-loam soil was amended with the treated sewage sludge and aged in outdoor lysimeters for six months. Earthworms were exposed to the aged mixtures and a dilution of the mixtures (using control soil?sludge mix). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data demonstrate that sewage sludge produced by treatment of wastewater containing metal/metal oxide nanomaterials can have greater effects on earthworm reproduction than sewage sludge produced by treatment of wastewater containing non-nano forms of the same metals. This outcome has important implications for the risk assessment of metallic nanomaterials. The findings are reported in Lahive E, et al. 2017. Sewage sludge treated with metal nanomaterials inhibits earthworm reproduction more strongly than sludge treated with metal metals in bulk/salt forms. Environmental Science-Nano 4:78-88. 
URL https://doi.org/10.5285/cc4679fd-02c1-4dd1-8aca-201ca9caaf9a
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation Carnegie Mellon University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation Cranfield University
Department School of Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation Duke University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation Lancaster University
Department Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation Rothamsted Research
Department Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description TINE collaborators 
Organisation University of Kentucky
Department Plant and Soil Sciences
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assessment of the toxicity of pristine metal/metal oxide nanoparticles to earthworms across different soil types. Assessment of the toxicity of soils/sewage sludge mixtures containing nanoparticles to earthworms. Assessment of the impacts of multigenerational exposure to silver nanoparticles on nematode worms.
Collaborator Contribution Development of methods for isolation, separation and characterisation of engineered nanoparticles from biological tissues and sewage sludges. Bioavailability, accumulation and effects of engineered nanoparticles on plants and microbes. Toxicogenomic effects of engineered nanoparticles on nematode worms. Transport and fate of engineered nanoparticles in soils. Pilot wastewater treatment plant and design; generation of nanoparticle-spiked sewage sludges for toxicity and accumulation testing; assessment of nanoparticle impacts on sewage treatment process.
Impact Publications: Schultz, C., et al. (2016). Multigenerational exposure to silver ions and silver nanoparticles reveals heightened sensitivity and epigenetic memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1832). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2911. Tsyusko, O., et al. (2012). Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans to Gold Nanoparticles. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 46(7), pp. 4115-4124. DOI: 10.1021/es2033108.
Start Year 2010
 
Description ENI Finale Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This activity was the Environmental Nanoscience Initiative (ENI) Final Event, the purpose of which was to disseminate the headline outcomes of the ENI projects to an audience from Defra, the HPA, the EA and SEPA, and industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/funded/programmes/nanoscience/news/finale-event/
 
Description Publication in Chemistry World 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in Chemistry World, published 27 January 2012, called 'Silver Soils', which in part describes the research to be undertaken in the project. Purpose was to raise awareness of the research among chemistry professionals and academics who are members of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Note article is restricted to RSC members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/