AdvisorSierra-Álvarez, María Reyes
Field, James A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEngineered nanomaterials are increasingly used in a variety of industrial processes and consumer products. Numerous studies have reported toxicity of different NPs during the last years. Thus, there are growing concerns about the potential impacts to the health and environment of engineered nanoparticles (NPs). However, some methodological problems complicate the interpretation of nanotoxicity studies. On the one hand, some NPs have shown to interfere with classical toxicity assays based on colorimetric or fluorescent measurements. On the other hand, most NPs tend to aggregate in media used in toxicity tests, which complicates the interpretation of the toxicity results. The first objective of this dissertation was to evaluate a novel impedance-based and label-free real time cell analyzer (RTCA) as a high throughput method for screening the cytotoxicity of nanoparticles and to validate the RTCA results using a conventional cytotoxicity test (MTT). Several inorganic NPs were tested for potential cytotoxicity to human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-). In general, there was a good correlation in cytotoxicity measurements between the two methods. Moreover, none of the NPs tested showed interference with the impedance measurements performed by the RTCA system. The results demonstrate the potential and validity of the impedance-based RTCA technique to rapidly screen for NP toxicity. The second objective of this dissertation was to assess the toxicity of different inorganic NPs to the eukaryotic cell model Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and to test the influence of NP aggregation state in their toxicity. Nanotoxicity was assessed by monitoring oxygen consumption in batch cultures and by analysis of cell membrane integrity. Mn₂O₃ NPs showed the highest inhibition of O₂ consumption and cell membrane damage, while the other NPs caused low or no toxicity to the yeast. Most NPs showed high tendency to aggregate in the assay medium, so a non-toxic dispersant was used to improve NP stability. In contrast to aggregated CeO₂ NPs, dispersed CeO₂ NPs showed toxicity to the yeast. However, dispersant supplementation decreased the inhibition caused by Mn₂O₃ NPs at low concentrations, which could indicate that dispersant association with the particles may have an impact on the interaction between the NPs and the cells. The proven toxicity of some NPs raises concerns about their environmental fate. Municipal and industrial wastewaters are considered primary sources of NPs to the environment. However, information on the behavior and impact of NPs on wastewater treatment processes is very limited. A third objective of this dissertation was to evaluate the fate and long-term effect of ZnO and CuO NPs during wastewater treatment in high-rate anaerobic bioreactors. Laboratory-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors were fed with synthetic wastewater containing NPs for extended periods of time (>90 d). Extensive removal (62-82%) of ZnO and CuO NPs was observed during wastewater treatment in the UASB reactors. Scanning electron microscopy and chemical analysis confirmed that NPs were associated with the anaerobic sludge. While short-term exposure to low levels of ZnO and CuO NPs only caused minor inhibition to methanogenesis, extended exposure to NPs accumulated in the sludge bed led to a gradual and partial inhibitory response in the reactors. The inhibitory effect was also evident in the decline in the acetoclastic methanogenic activity of the biomass.
Degree ProgramGraduate College