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Fate and Effect of Nano Tungsten Carbide Cobalt (WCCo) in the Soil Environment: Observing a Nanoparticle Specific Toxicity in Enchytraeus crypticus

Ribeiro, Maria J., Maria, Vera L., Soares, Amadeu M.V.M., Scott-Fordsmand, Janeck J., Amorim, Mónica J.B.
Environmental science & technology 2018 v.52 no.19 pp. 11394-11401
Enchytraeus, cobalt, edaphic factors, environmental fate, exposure duration, industry, median effective concentration, models, nanoparticles, neoplasms, occupational exposure, reproduction, respiratory tract diseases, risk, soil, toxicity, tungsten
Tungsten carbide cobalt (WCCo) nanoparticles (NPs) are widely used in hard metal industries. Pulmonary diseases and risk of cancer are associated with occupational exposure, but knowledge about the environmental fate and effects is virtually absent. In this study, the fate and effects of crystalline WCCo NPs, WC, and Co²⁺ were assessed in the soil model Enchytraeus crypticus, following the standard Enchytraeid Reproduction Test (ERT). An additional 28 day exposure period compared to the ERT (i.e., a total of 56 days) was performed to assess longer-term effects. WCCo NPs affected reproduction at a concentration higher than the corresponding Co based (EC50 = 1500 mg WCCo/kg, equivalent to 128 mg Co/kg). WC showed no negative effect up to 1000 mg W/kg. Maximum uptake of Co was 10-fold higher for CoCl₂ compared to WCCo exposed organisms. Overall toxicity seems to be due to a combined effect between WC and Co. This is supported by the soil bioavailable fraction and biological tissue measurements. Last, results highlight the need to consider longer exposure period of NPs for comparable methods standardized for conventional chemicals.