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Relevance of octanol–water distribution measurements to the potential ecological uptake of multi-walled carbon nanotubes

Authors

  • Elijah J. Petersen,

    1. Energy and Environment Program, Department of Chemical Engineering, 4103 Engineering Research Building, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2099, USA
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  • Qingguo Huang,

    1. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, Griffin, Georgia 30223, USA
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  • Walter J. Weber Jr.

    Corresponding author
    1. Energy and Environment Program, Department of Chemical Engineering, 4103 Engineering Research Building, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2099, USA
    • Energy and Environment Program, Department of Chemical Engineering, 4103 Engineering Research Building, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2099, USA.
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Abstract

Many potential applications of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) require various physicochemical modifications prior to use, suggesting that nanotubes having varied properties may pose risks in ecosystems. A means for estimating bioaccumulation potentials of variously modified CNTs for incorporation in predictive fate models would be highly valuable. An approach commonly used for sparingly soluble organic contaminants, and previously suggested for use as well with carbonaceous nanomaterials, involves measurement of their octanol–water partitioning coefficient (KOW) values. To test the applicability of this approach, a methodology was developed to measure apparent octanol–water distribution behaviors for purified multi-walled carbon nanotubes and those acid treated. Substantial differences in apparent distribution coefficients between the two types of CNTs were observed, but these differences did not influence accumulation by either earthworms (Eisenia foetida) or oligochaetes (Lumbriculus variegatus), both of which showed minimal nanotube uptake for both types of nanotubes. The results suggest that traditional distribution behavior-based KOW approaches are likely not appropriate for predicting CNT bioaccumulation. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1106–1112. © 2010 SETAC

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