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Multimodal Action and Selective Toxicity of Zerovalent Iron Nanoparticles against Cyanobacteria

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Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Lidická 25/27, 657 20 Brno, Czech Republic
‡ § Centre for Nanomaterial Research, Faculty of Science, and §Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials, Department of Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Palacky University, Slechtitelu 11, 783 71 Olomouc, Czech Republic
*Phone: +420585634947; fax: +420585634958; e-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 4, 2316–2323
Publication Date (Web):January 11, 2012
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

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    Cyanobacteria pose a serious threat to water resources around the world. This is compounded by the fact that they are extremely resilient, having evolved numerous protective mechanisms to ensure their dominant position in their ecosystem. We show that treatment with nanoparticles of zerovalent iron (nZVI) is an effective and environmentally benign method for destroying and preventing the formation of cyanobacterial water blooms. The nanoparticles have multiple modes of action, including the removal of bioavailable phosphorus, the destruction of cyanobacterial cells, and the immobilization of microcystins, preventing their release into the water column. Ecotoxicological experiments showed that nZVI is a highly selective agent, having an EC50 of 50 mg/L against cyanobacteria; this is 20–100 times lower than its EC50 for algae, daphnids, water plants, and fishes. The primary product of nZVI treatment is nontoxic and highly aggregated Fe(OH)3, which promotes flocculation and gradual settling of the decomposed cyanobacterial biomass.

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    Additional material on the physicochemical characterization of the used nZVI sample (X-ray powder diffraction pattern, particle size distribution, room-temperature Mössbauer spectrum, nitrogen adsorption/desorption isotherms) and X-ray powder diffraction pattern of the nZVI sample after the reaction with KH2PO4 as an evidence for formation of iron(III) phosphate. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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