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Ecotoxicity and fate of a silver nanomaterial in an outdoor lysimeter study

Schlich, Karsten, Hoppe, Martin, Kraas, Marco, Fries, Elke, Hund-Rinke, Kerstin
Ecotoxicology 2017 v.26 no.6 pp. 738-751
agricultural land, canola, ecotoxicology, fertilizers, harvesting, laboratory experimentation, lysimeters, nanomaterials, nutrient content, rhizosphere, risk assessment, roots, sewage sludge, silver, soil, soil microorganisms, wheat
Sewage sludge is repeatedly applied as fertilizer on farmland due to its high nutrient content. This may lead to a significant increase of silver nanomaterials (AgNM) in soil over years. Therefore, our aim was to investigate the ecotoxicity and fate of AgNM under environmentally relevant conditions in outdoor lysimeters over 25 months. Two AgNM concentrations (1.7 and 8.0 mg/kg dry matter soil) were applied via sewage sludge into soil. In subsamples of the soil, incubated under laboratory conditions for 180 days, the comparability of outdoor and laboratory results regarding ecotoxicity was determined. The results from our long term lysimeter experiments show no detectable horizontal displacement in combination with very low remobilization to the percolate water. Thus, indicate that the sludge applied AgNM remains nearly immobile in the pathway between soils and leachate. However, Ag uptake to the roots of wheat and canola suggests that the chemical conditions in the rhizosphere induce AgNM remobilization from the incorporated sewage sludge even after two harvesting cycles. At the higher AgNM concentration a steady inhibition of the soil microflora was observed over 25 month in the lysimeter study, while there was no effect at the lower AgNM concentration. The results of the laboratory experiment reflect the findings of the lysimeter study and indicate that a risk assessment for AgNM based on data from laboratory tests is acceptable.