Influence of Water Quality on the Bioavailability and Food Chain Transport of Carbon Nanoparticles

EPA Grant Number: R834092
Title: Influence of Water Quality on the Bioavailability and Food Chain Transport of Carbon Nanoparticles
Investigators: Klaine, Stephen J. , Burton, Jr., G. Allen , Ke, Pu-Chun , Mukhopadhyay, Sharmila , Roberts, Aaron
Institution: Clemson University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011
Project Amount: $400,000
RFA: Exploratory Research: Nanotechnology Research Grants Investigating Fate, Transport, Transformation, and Exposure of Engineered Nanomaterials: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, NSF, & DOE (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Safer Chemicals


As the use of nanomaterials grows so does the potential for ecological impact. Increased manufacturing of these nanomaterials will likely increase their inputs into aquatic ecosystems. Carbon nanoparticles are inherently hydrophobic but their interactions with water quality constituents, such as natural organic matter (NOM), may make them more stable in the water column. This would increase the residence time in the water column and increase the potential for exposure to aquatic organisms. Proposed research will characterize nanoparticle bioavailability in aquatic ecosystems and the potential for food chain transfer. Specifically, we will accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Characterize the influence of NOM, pH, and ionic strength on the bioavailability of nanomaterials to aquatic organisms.
  2. Characterize the movement of nanomaterials through the aquatic food chain.


The experimental approach will utilize 13C enriched carbon nanoparticles to quantify bioavailability, bioconcentration, and food chain transfer. Specific carbon nanoparticles to be examined include C60, C70, multi-walled carbon nanotubes, nanocoils, and nanowires. Bioavailability and bioconcentration will be characterized in algae, water-column invertebrates, and fish. Treatments will include three levels each of NOM, pH, and ionic strength as well as three sources of NOM. Research will employ a complete factorial experimental design. Bioaccumulation and transport will be characterized in an algal-daphnid-fathead minnow food chain.

Expected Results:

Results of this research will quantify exposure scenarios, provide data to develop site-specific estimates of bioavailability, and characterize nanoparticle movement through the food chain. By relating BCF values to water quality and particle suspension characteristics we will facilitate the development of predictive models ultimately useful in ecological risk assessments of nanomaterials.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 11 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 11 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Bioconcentration, Bioaccumulation, Nanoparticle Suspension Characterization,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2009
  • 2010
  • Final Report