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Hydrophobic Surface Coating Can Reduce Toxicity of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles to the Marine Copepod Tigriopus japonicus

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journal contribution
posted on 07.05.2021, 20:05 by Racliffe Weng Seng Lai, Hye-Min Kang, Guang-Jie Zhou, Mana Man Na Yung, Yan Ling He, Alan Man Ching Ng, Xiao-yan Li, Aleksandra B. Djurišić, Jae-Seong Lee, Kenneth Mei Yee Leung
Coated zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) are more commonly applied in commercial products but current risk assessments mostly focus on bare ZnO-NPs. To investigate the impacts of surface coatings, this study examined acute and chronic toxicities of six chemicals, including bare ZnO-NPs, ZnO-NPs with three silane coatings of different hydrophobicity, zinc oxide bulk particles (ZnO-BKs), and zinc ions (Zn-IONs), toward a marine copepod, Tigriopus japonicus. In acute tests, bare ZnO-NPs and hydrophobic ZnO-NPs were less toxic than hydrophilic ZnO-NPs. Analyses of the copepod’s antioxidant gene expression suggested that such differences were governed by hydrodynamic size and ion dissolution of the particles, which affected zinc bioaccumulation in copepods. Conversely, all test particles, except the least toxic hydrophobic ZnO-NPs, shared similar chronic toxicity as Zn-IONs because they mostly dissolved into zinc ions at low test concentrations. The metadata analysis, together with our test results, further suggested that the toxicity of coated metal-associated nanoparticles could be predicted by the hydrophobicity and density of their surface coatings. This study evidenced the influence of surface coatings on the physicochemical properties, toxicity, and toxic mechanisms of ZnO-NPs and provided insights into the toxicity prediction of coated nanoparticles from their coating properties to improve their future risk assessment and management.