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Methodological considerations for testing the ecotoxicity of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes: Review



Elijah J. Petersen, Theodore B. Henry


The recent emergence of manufactured nanoparticles (NPs) as materials that can be released into the environment and lead to exposure in organisms has accelerated the need to determine their toxicity. However, techniques for measuring toxicity of NPs (nanotoxicology) in ecological receptors (econanotoxicology) are in their infancy, and establishing standardized ecotoxicity tests for NPs are presently limited by a number of factors. These factors include 1) the extent of NP characterization that is necessary (or possible) before, during, and after toxicity tests such that toxic effects can be related to physicochemical characteristics of NPs; 2) determination of uptake and distribution of NPs within exposed organisms (does uptake occur or are effects exerted at organism surfaces); and 3) determination of the appropriate types of controls for incorporation into ecotoxicity tests with NPs. In this review we focus on the important elements of measuring the ecotoxicity of carbon NPs (CNPs), discuss the limitations in our current understanding of their toxicity in the ecosystem, and make recommendations for ecotoxicology testing that should help enable more rigorous interpretations of collected data and inter-laboratory comparisons. This review is intended to serve as a next step toward the development of standardized tests that can be incorporated into a regulatory framework for CNPs.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


Nanotoxicology, carbon nanotubes, methods, fullerenes


Petersen, E. and Henry, T. (2011), Methodological considerations for testing the ecotoxicity of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes: Review, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created October 12, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017