Metal oxide nanoparticles with low toxicity
•There is no clear relationship between ROS production and toxicity.•Aggregation properties have significant effect on toxicity.•Interaction with the cell wall molecules has significant effect on toxicity.
A number of different nanomaterials produced and incorporated into various products are rising. However, their environmental hazards are frequently unknown. Here we consider three different metal oxide compounds (SnO2, In2O3, and Al2O3), which have not been extensively studied and are expected to have low toxicity. This study aimed to comprehensively characterize the physicochemical properties of these nanomaterials and investigate their toxicity on bacteria (Escherichia coli) under UV illumination and in the dark, as well as on a marine diatom (Skeletonema costatum) under ambient illumination/dark (16–8 h) cycles. The material properties responsible for their low toxicity have been identified based on comprehensive experimental characterizations and comparison to a metal oxide exhibiting significant toxicity under illumination (anatase TiO2). The metal oxide materials investigated exhibited significant difference in surface properties and interaction with the living organisms. In order for a material to exhibit significant toxicity, it needs to be able to both form a stable suspension in the culture medium and to interact with the cell walls of the test organism. Our results indicated that the observed low toxicities of the three nanomaterials could be attributed to the limited interaction between the nanoparticles and cell walls of the test organisms. This could occur either due to the lack of significant attachment between nanoparticles and cell walls, or due to their tendency to aggregate in solution.
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Journal: Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology - Volume 151, October 2015, Pages 17–24