Nanotechnology, or the use of materials with one dimension less than 100nm, offers the ability to change particle reactivity by simply changing their size. This novel property of nanomaterials is used to create more effective medical treatments for cancer, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, but the influence of nanoparticle size on environmental toxicity has not been thoroughly addressed to date. This study examines the influence of the size of silver particles on drosophila egg development by exposing their eggs to particle concentrations ranging from 10ppm-100 ppm of silver. Size, chemistry and agglomeration of the silver particles are evaluated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). This analysis confirmes individual silver particle size in the ranges of 20-30nm, 100nm and 500-1,200 nm with similar chemistry. DLS and TEM data also indicates agglomeration in water; with the TEM images showing individual particles in the correct size range, but the DLS z-average sizes of the silver nanoparticle are 782 ± 379 nm for the 20-30nm silver nanoparticles, 693 ± 114 nm for the 100nm silver nanoparticles and 508 ± 32 nm for the 500-1,200nm silver particles. Most importantly, here we show significantly more drosophila egg toxicity when exposed to larger, non-nanometer, silver particles. Upon exposure to silver nanoparticles sized 20-30nm, drosophila eggs do not exhibit a statistically significant (p<0.05) decrease in their likelihood to pupate, but eggs exposed to larger silver particles (500-1,200nm) are 91% (±18%) less likely to pupate. Exposure to silver nanoparticles reduces the percentage of pupa able to emerge as adults. At 10ppm of silver particle exposure, only 57% (± 48) of the pupa exposed to 20-30nm silver particles become adults whereas 89% (±25) of the control group becoem adults and 94%(±52) and 91%(±19) of the 500-1,200nm and 100nm group, respectively, reached adulthood. In this manner, this paper provides evidence that nanoscale silver particles (<100nm) are less toxic to drosophila eggs than conventional (>100nm) sized silver particles.
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