• Carbon nanotubes;
  • Black carbon;
  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Chironomus plumosus larvae;
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Carbonaceous materials (CMs), including carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and black carbon have been suggested as potential remediation materials for hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) in sediments or soils. However, the concentration-dependent and potential effects of CMs on the decrease in HOC bioavailability are not well understood. In this research, the effects of two types of multiwalled CNTs (MWNT-1 and MWNT-2) and chars (char-stalk produced from stalk and char-wood from wood) on the bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including phenanthrene, pyrene, and chrysene, in the benthic organism Chironomus plumosus larvae were studied. When CM content was 1.5% or less in sediments, biota-sediment accumulation factor (BSAF) values for PAHs decreased sharply as CM increased. However, when char and MWNT-1 content was greater than 1.5% in sediments, reduction rates of BSAF were slight. Furthermore, when MWNT-2 content was greater than 1.5%, BSAF values were elevated. This indicated that the MWNT-associated PAHs may have been absorbed by larvae through particle ingestion, and suggested that some CNTs may not be suitable for the remediation of HOC-contaminated sediments because they probably could increase the exposure risk of PAHs to benthic organisms, possibly because of their unique structure. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:202–209. © 2011 SETAC