Evaluation of Silver Nanoparticle Acute and Chronic Effects on Freshwater Amphipod (Hyalella Azteca)

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Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are known to cause ecotoxic effects, but there are no existing derived ambient water quality criteria (AWQC) for these nanomaterials to protect freshwater aquatic life due to insufficient toxicological data. We exposed Hyalella azteca to silver nitrate, citrate-coated AgNPs (citrate-AgNPs), and polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs) in a 10-day and 28-day water-only static renewal system with clean sand as a substrate for the amphipods and compared their point estimates with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) AWQC for silver. We observed that all treatments decreased the survival, growth, and biomass of H. azteca, and the order of toxicity was AgNO > citrate-AgNPs > PVP-AgNPs. The LC50s of AgNO, citrate-AgNPs, and PVP-AgNPs were 3.0, 9.6, and 296.0 µg total Ag L, respectively, for the acute exposure and 2.4, 3.2, and 61.4 µg total Ag L, respectively, for the chronic exposure. Acute and chronic EC20s of citrate-AgNPs ranged from 0.5 to 3.5 µg total Ag L while that of PVP-AgNPs ranged from 31.2 to 175 µg total Ag L for growth and biomass. Both Ag released from AgNPs and the nanoparticles contributed to the observed toxicity. The dissolution and toxicity of AgNPs were influenced by surface coating agents, particle size, and surface charge. Most point estimates for AgNPs were above AWQC for silver (4.1 µg L) and the lowest concentration (0.12 µg/L) at which Ag is expected to cause chronic adverse effects to freshwater aquatic life. Our study demonstrates that the current AWQC for silver, in general, is protective of freshwater aquatic life against AgNPs tested in the present study.