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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"The ecotoxic potential of a new zero-valent iron nanomaterial, designed for the elimination of halogenated pollutants, and its effect on reductive dechlorinating microbial communities."

The purpose of this study was to assess the ecotoxic potential of a new zero-valent iron nanomaterial produced for the elimination of chlorinated pollutants at contaminated sites. Abiotic dechlorination through the newly developed nanoscale zero-valent iron material and its effects on dechlorinating bacteria were investigated in anaerobic batch and column experiments. The aged, i.e. oxidized, iron material was characterization with dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray analysis, x-ray diffractometry and cell-free reactive oxygen measurements. Furthermore, it was evaluated in aerobic ecotoxicological test systems with algae, crustacean, and fish, and also applied in a mechanism specific test for mutagenicity. The anaerobic column experiments showed co-occurrence of abiotic and biological dechlorination of the common groundwater contaminant perchloroethene. No prolonged toxicity of the nanomaterial (measured for up to 300 days) towards t he investigated dechlorinating microorganism was observed. The nanomaterial has a flake like appearance and an inhomogeneous size distribution. The toxicity to crustacean and fish was calculated and the obtained EC50 values were 163 mg/L and 458 mg/L, respectively. The nanomaterial showed no mutagenicity. It physically interacted with algae, which had implications for further testing and the evaluation of the results. Thus, the newly developed iron nanomaterial was slightly toxic in its reduced state but no prolonged toxicity was recorded. The aquatic tests revealed a low toxicity with EC50 values ≥ 163 mg/L. These concentrations are unlikely to be reached in the aquatic environment. Hence, this nanomaterial is probably of no environmental concern not prohibiting its application for groundwater remediation.