Evaluation of biological effects of nanomaterials: Cost-efficient tool box and corona challenges
A. Kahru 1,2
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National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Tallinn, Estonia
Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tallinn, Estonia
Publication date: 2021-09-27
Public Health Toxicol 2021;1(Supplement Supplement 1):A19
Nanomaterials and nanotechnologies allow breakthroughs practically in all fields of development, from car industry to medicine. As the progress cannot be achieved at any price, i.e. not taking into account the potential risks to human and environment, safety evaluation must be performed in parallel to the development of novel (nano)materials.
The authors of this presentation have long-time experience in eco-safety evaluation of different types of nanomaterials (NMs) using a combined approach based on thorough physico-chemical characterization of NMs coupled to the bioassays with crustaceans, protozoa, algae, plants and microbes. This approach has been successfully used on metallic NMs1-3,5, e.g., antimicrobial NMs3,4, rare-earth-elements and their oxides5 and more recently also micro- and nanoplastics6,7. Last but not least, our pioneering studies incorporating the assays based on metal-sensing recombinant bacteria4 have shown the leading role of shed metal ions in toxic effect of metal-based nanomaterials8.
The COVID-19 outbreak created an unexpected challenge also to ecotoxicologists: firstly, the urgent need for novel antiviral materials has led to the rapidly increasing interest in use of e.g., copper and silver in different surface coatings, textiles and face masks etc. Indeed, silver, copper and zinc are efficient antimicrobials but have hazardous effects to aquatic species, especially to algae and crustaceans – important representatives of aquatic food chain3. Secondly, the need for protection of humans against Coronavirus has led to warning increase of use of single-use plastics (masks, gowns, gloves) being contradictory to the pre-COVID strategy envisaging cutting down the single-use plastics.
Thus, the NM safety research is very challenging but indispensable allowing to (i) connect the materials physico-chemical properties with their biological properties; (ii) discover the types of materials that can be safely applied, or, if not so, (iii) modified to be more safe (safe-by-design) or (iv) used as biocides and/or antimicrobials/antivirals (toxic-by-design)3. The current COVID-outbreak has proven the need to address all of these aspects.
This work was supported by ERDF TK-134 project, Estonian Reseach Council projects PRG749, PSG311, PUT1015 and MOBJD509.
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