Aquatic toxicity effects and risk assessment of ‘form specific’ product-released engineered nanomaterials

Raisibe Florence Lehutso, James Wesley-Smith, Melusi Thwala*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigated the toxicity effects of ‘form specific’ engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and ions released from nano-enabled products (NEPs), namely sunscreens, sanitisers, body creams and socks on Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, Spirodela polyrhiza, and Daphnia magna. Addi-tionally, risk estimation emanating from the exposures was undertaken. The ENMs and the ions released from the products both contributed to the effects to varying extents, with neither being a uniform principal toxicity agent across the exposures; however, the effects were either synergistic or antagonistic. D. magna and S. polyrhiza were the most sensitive and least sensitive test organisms, respectively. The most toxic effects were from ENMs and ions released from sanitisers and sunscreens, whereas body creams and sock counterparts caused negligible effects. The internalisation of the ENMs from the sunscreens could not be established; only adsorption on the biota was evident. It was established that ENMs and ions released from products pose no imminent risk to ecosystems; instead, small to significant adverse effects are expected in the worst-case exposure scenario. The study demonstrates that while ENMs from products may not be considered to pose an imminent risk, increasing nanotechnology commercialization may increase their environmental exposure and risk potential; therefore, priority exposure cases need to be examined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12468
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Engineered nanomaterials
  • Nano-enabled products
  • Nanotoxicity
  • Risk assessment


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