Title: Forecasting the Environmental Fate and Ecotoxicity of Nanomaterials in Aquatic Systems

PI: Dr. Stacey Harper

Award Start Date: 09/01/2014
Award Expiration Date: 08/31/2017

Stacey Harper

Nano-size particles (nanoparticles, or NPs) are becoming increasingly prevalent in industrial processes. Their toxic effects are usually not known before their use. The Oregon State University research team proposes to develop small-scale ("nanocosm") assays to profile the eco-toxicities of NPs in aquatic environments. Students from minority and woman groups will be involved in the proposed research. The results of the investigation will shed light on the behavior of silver and zinc oxide NPs in aquatic environments. Since the lack of a common approach to environmental investigations of NPs has limited the advancement of knowledge in this area, successful completion of this work will produce a rapid assay that can be adopted as a standard technique by other researchers, policy makers and regulators, and chemical producers, so the proposed research is, therefore, potentially transformative.

The overall goal of the proposed work is to predict nanomaterial behavior in natural environments and forecast potential to impact organisms and ecosystem function. The objectives are to first develop and validate an assay for use in determining the ecotoxicity of nanomaterials in aquatic systems.  The nanocosms will include organisms such as algae, bacteria, small invertebrates, and developing vertebrates in order to determine the biological impacts of known nanomaterial toxicants (Ag and ZnO nanoparticles). The validated assay will then be employed to elucidate nanomaterial features (e,g, composition, size, and surface chemistry) that alter bioavailability, biological impacts, community structure and overall ecosystem health. Finally, the data gathered will be used to help construct a predictive model using the structure-activity relationships (SAR) of nanoparticle behavior and ecotoxicity. The results will be established and embedded into existing modeling frameworks that can translate the findings to decision making processes.

More about Stacey Harper and her research

Harper Nanotoxicology Lab | Publications