Nanomaterials in the aquatic environment: A European Union-United States perspective on the status of ecotoxicity testing, research priorities, and challenges ahead

Henriette Selck, Richard D. Handy, Teresa F Fernandes, Stephen J. Klaine, Elijah J. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The European Union-United States Communities of Research were established in 2012 to provide a platform for scientists to develop a "shared repertoire of protocols and methods to overcome nanotechnology environmental health and safety (nanoEHS) research gaps and barriers" ( Based on work within the Ecotoxicology Community of Research (2012-2015) the present Focus article provides an overview of the state of the art of nanomaterials (NMs) in the aquatic environment by addressing different research questions, with a focus on ecotoxicological test systems and the challenges faced when assessing NM hazards (e.g., uptake routes, bioaccumulation, toxicity, test protocols, and model organisms). The authors' recommendation is to place particular importance on studying the ecological effects of aged/weathered NMs, as-manufactured NMs, and NMs released from consumer products in addressing the following overarching research topics: 1) NM characterization and quantification in environmental and biological matrices; 2) NM transformation in the environment and consequences for bioavailability and toxicity; 3) alternative methods to assess exposure; 4) influence of exposure scenarios on bioavailability and toxicity; 5) development of more environmentally realistic bioassays; and 6) uptake, internal distribution, and depuration of NMs. Research addressing these key topics will reduce uncertainty in ecological risk assessment and support the sustainable development of nanotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1067
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016



  • Ecotoxicology
  • Nano
  • Nanomaterial
  • Sediment
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry

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