Miracle material potential water pollutant

Written for Chemistry World by James Sudlow

Researchers demonstrate toxic effects of graphene on aquatic life

By looking at the effects of graphene on water fleas, scientists in China have discovered that it may disrupt aquatic ecosystems, suggesting an unfortunate dark side to the wonder material.

Graphene, the poster child of carbon nanomaterials, has been extensively studied in recent years, and has shown great promise in fields ranging from materials chemistry to electronics and medicine. However, until now its toxicity to aquatic organisms has not been a serious concern.

Wenhong Fan and his team at Beihang University suspended a range of carbon nanomaterials in water and observed their effects on daphnids, also called water fleas, a model organism for water pollution tests. At concentrations above 0.5mg/l graphene significantly impaired their growth and reproduction over a period of 21 days. Fan speculates this is caused by adsorption of graphene onto the daphnids’ surface. Other carbon nanomaterials, including buckminsterfullerene, single walled carbon nanotubes and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, proved more benign.

After 21 days in contaminated water, the daphnids were covered in graphene (far right, GN). Other materials (fullerenes/C60, single-walled carbon nanotubes/SWCNT, multi-walled carbon nanotubes/MWCNT) were barely adsorbed. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


The mechanism of chronic toxicity to Daphnia magna induced by graphene suspended in a water column

Wenhong Fan, Yingying Liu, Zhizhen Xu, Xiangrui Wang, Xiaomin Li and Shenglian Luo

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00361C, Paper

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