Ecotoxicology of nanomaterials: the role of invertebrate testing
Keywords:engineered nanomaterials, nanotoxicology, invertebrates
Engineered nanomaterials represent a new and expanding class of chemicals whose
environmental hazard is actually poorly determined. The peculiar behavior of nanomaterials makes
them much more similar to new chemicals than to the corresponding bulk materials; this feature
imposes reliable and standardized evaluation protocols for toxicity and ecotoxicity assessments.
General rules for assessing nanotoxicity and the state of the art are periodically published in reports by control agencies. This review highlights the role of invertebrates as valuable and validated test
organisms for assessing ecotoxicity of new and/or untested chemicals. The general scarcity of
experimental data, their unequal distribution among the different nanomaterials and environmental
conditions, the difficulties in manipulating nanomaterials and obtaining stable and homogeneous
suspensions, the confusion arising from a not well defined metrics are discussed.