A dose metrics perspective on the association of gold nanomaterials with algal cells


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ABSTRACT - A single-cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry technique was used to explore the influence of particle properties on the association of nanomaterials (NMs) with algal cells. We investigated the effect of particle size, shape, and surface chemistry [citrate and natural organic matter (NOM) coating] on the association of gold (Au) NMs with algal cells using particle mass, particle number, surface area (SA), and volume-specific surface area (VSSA) as dose metrics. Particle number was found to be a better dose metric than particle mass, SA, and VSSA in view of the strong correlation obtained between the number of associated Au NMs with cells and the number of Au NMs in the exposure medium. When particle number was used as the dose metric, there was no selectivity of Au NM cellular association irrespective of particle size and shape, and the cellular association was proportional to the effective number of particles to which the cells were exposed. The surface chemistry of the Au NMs, however, decreased the level of cellular association of some NMs (60 nm spheres). Particle number is the main element used for the classification of NMs according to the recommended definition for NM by the European Commission. The key finding of our study supports the implementation of this definition for safety purposes.

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