A critical review on the role of abiotic factors on the transformation, environmental identity and toxicity of engineered nanomaterials in aquatic environment

Krupa Kansara, Shiv Bolan, Deepika Radhakrishnan, Thava Palanisami, Ala'a H. Al-Muhtaseb, Nanthi Bolan, Ajayan Vinu, Ashutosh Kumar, Ajay Karakoti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are at the forefront of many technological breakthroughs in science and engineering. The extensive use of ENMs in several consumer products has resulted in their release to the aquatic environment. ENMs entering the aquatic ecosystem undergo a dynamic transformation as they interact with organic and inorganic constituents present in aquatic environment, specifically abiotic factors such as NOM and clay minerals, and attain an environmental identity. Thus, a greater understanding of ENM-abiotic factors interactions is required for an improved risk assessment and sustainable management of ENMs contamination in the aquatic environment. This review integrates fundamental aspects of ENMs transformation in aquatic environment as impacted by abiotic factors, and delineates the recent advances in bioavailability and ecotoxicity of ENMs in relation to risk assessment for ENMs-contaminated aquatic ecosystem. It specifically discusses the mechanism of transformation of different ENMs (metals, metal oxides and carbon based nanomaterials) following their interaction with the two most common abiotic factors NOM and clay minerals present within the aquatic ecosystem. The review critically discusses the impact of these mechanisms on the altered ecotoxicity of ENMs including the impact of such transformation at the genomic level. Finally, it identifies the gaps in our current understanding of the role of abiotic factors on the transformation of ENMs and paves the way for the future research areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118726
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Clay minerals
  • Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs)
  • Natural organic matter (NOM)
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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