Adverse effects of metallic silver nanoparticles to soil nitrification in different soils
Abstract - Risk assessment of metallic nanoparticles (NPs) is critically affected by the concern that toxicity goes beyond that of the metallic ion. The present study addressed this concern for soils with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) using the Ag‐sensitive nitrification assay.
Three agricultural soils (A, B, and C) were spiked with equivalent doses of either AgNP (diameter = 13 nm) or AgNO3. Soil solution was isolated and monitored over 97 d with due attention to accurate Ag fractionation at low (∼10 μg L−1) Ag concentrations. Truly dissolved (<1 kDa) Ag in the AgNO3‐amended soils decreased with reaction half‐lives of 4 to 22 d depending on the soil, denoting important Ag–aging reactions. In contrast, truly dissolved Ag in AgNP‐amended soils first increased by dissolution and subsequently decreased by aging, the concentration never exceeding that in the AgNO3‐amended soils. The half‐lives of AgNP transformation‐dissolution were approximately 4 d (soils A and B) and 36 d (soil C).
The Ag toxic thresholds (10% effect concentrations, milligrams of Ag per kilogram of soil) of nitrification, evaluated at 21 or 35 d after spiking, were similar between the 2 Ag forms (soils A and B) but were factors of 3 to 8 lower for AgNO3 than for AgNP (soil C), largely corroborating dissolution differences.
This fate and bioassay showed that AgNPs are not more toxic than AgNO3 at equivalent total soil Ag concentrations and that differences in Ag dissolution at least partially explain toxicity differences between the forms and among soils.