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Toxicity of different-sized copper nano- and submicron particles and their shed copper ions to zebrafish embryos



Three sizes of copper nanoparticles (Cu NPs; 25 nm, 50 nm, and 100 nm), 1 submicron-sized particle, and Cu(NO3)2 were added to the culture buffer of zebrafish embryos from 24 h postfertilization to 120 h postfertilization. In suspensions of Cu NPs and the Cu submicron-sized particle, the main contribution to the toxicity to zebrafish embryos was from the particle form of Cu particles (Cu NPparticle, >71%) rather than from dissolved Cu from the Cu particles (Cu NPion). All particles tested as well as copper nitrate inhibited hatching, altered behavioral responses, and increased the incidence of malformations. Different kinds of abnormalities were observed in the morphology and behavior of the zebrafish embryos, depending on the particle size of the Cu suspensions tested. The median lethal concentrations of Cu NPparticle (25 nm, 50 nm, and 100 nm), the submicron-sized particle, and copper nitrate were 0.58 mg/L, 1.65 mg/L, 1.90 mg/L, 0.35 mg/L, and 0.70 mg/L, respectively. Submicron-sized particles and copper nitrate were more toxic than Cu NPs, and smaller Cu NPs were more toxic than larger Cu NPs. Dissolution of Cu NPs and the subsequent ion toxicity was not the primary mechanism of Cu NP toxicity in zebrafish embryos. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:1774–1782. © 2014 SETAC