What is it about?

Water fleas were exposed to nanocellulose, a material composed of nanosized cellulose fibrils, and no harmful effects were observed at environmentally relevant concentrations. It would be very unlikely to observe such effects, because these animals are filter-feeders and cellulose of all sizes and shapes, including nanosized particles, is ubiquitously present in their environment. Therefore, evolutionary, water fleas and other filter-feeders are well-equipped to handle various non-food particles.

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Why is it important?

When studying effects of nanoparticles and microparticles of anthropogenic origin, such as microplasticls, nanomaterials, black carbon, etc., it is important to consider the physiological capacity of the test animals to handle such particles and to have a naturally occurring reference material, such as clay or cellulose, as a part of the experiments. By comparing hazardous effects of the test particles to those of the reference particles, we can conclude whether the particle in question is more harmful than a natural particle of similar size.


A standardized approach for particle effect assessment is needed in modern ecotoxicology. The current ecotoxicological assays are targeting largely chemicals and not particulate materials, which is hampering risk assessment of particles, particularly in ecologically relevant settings. In our group, we are currently developing such approach and apply it in risk assessment of nano- and microparticles.

Elena Gorokhova
Stockholm University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Multi-level toxicity assessment of engineered cellulose nanofibrils in Daphnia magna, Nanotoxicology, May 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/17435390.2018.1464229.
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