Community effects of carbon nanotubes in aquatic sediments

I. Velzeboer, D. Kupryianchyk, E.T.H.M. Peeters, A.A. Koelmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Aquatic sediments form an important sink for manufactured nanomaterials, like carbon nanotubes (CNT) and fullerenes, thus potentially causing adverse effects to the aquatic environment, especially to benthic organisms. To date, most nanoparticle effect studies used single species tests in the laboratory, which lacks ecological realism. Here, we studied the effects of multiwalled CNT (MWCNT) contaminated sediments on benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Sediment was taken from an unpolluted site, cleaned from invertebrates, mixed with increasing levels of MWCNTs (0, 0.002, 0.02, 0.2 and 2 g/kg dry weight), transferred to trays and randomly relocated in the original unpolluted site, which now acted as a donor system for recolonization by benthic species. After three months of exposure, the trays were regained, organic (OC) and residual carbon (RC) were measured, and benthic organisms and aquatic macrophytes were identified. ANOVA revealed a significantly higher number of individuals with increasing MWCNT concentrations. The Shannon index showed no significant effect of MWCNT addition on biodiversity. Multivariate statistics applied to the complete macroinvertebrate dataset, did show effects on the community level. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) showed differences in taxa composition related to MWCNT levels indicating differences in sensitivity of the taxa. Redundancy Analysis (RDA) revealed that MWCNT dose, presence of macrophytes, and spatial distribution explained 38.3% of the total variation in the data set, of which MWCNT dose contributed with 18.9%. Still, the net contribution of MWCNT dose was not statistically significant, indicating that negative community effects are not likely to occur at environmentally relevant future CNT concentrations in aquatic sediments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1130
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • manufactured nanoparticles
  • engineered nanoparticles
  • black carbon
  • environment
  • nanomaterials
  • bioavailability
  • ecotoxicology
  • toxicity
  • behavior
  • risks


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