Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Marion Maine, University of Maine Orono

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Comparison of the Toxic Effects of Copper Nanoparticles and Dissolved Copper Chloride on Larval Amphibian


Due to recent advances in nanotechnology, it is important to determine if the nanoparticles being released into the environment are toxic. Aquatic environments are the ultimate sink for these nanomaterials, yet little research has been done on the effects for aquatic organisms. In this present study, three species of larval amphibians were assessed for toxicity of copper: the spotted salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, the American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, and the Gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor. Copper was chosen because it is already known to be toxic to fish and amphibians in dissolved form. To understand how toxic nanoparticles are, we performed 96 hour toxicity tests on the amphibians using dissolved copper chloride and copper oxide nanoparticles. Our results indicate that dissolved copper is toxic to all species, whereas one type of copper nanoparticle was highly toxic to the Gray tree frogs only. The second type of nanoparticle used, which stayed suspended in the water rather than settle to the bottom like the first, had no effect on the tree frogs.