Plants and microbes can absorb nano-sized synthetic particles that magnify in concentration within predators up the food chain, according to two new studies. …
To explore nanoparticle absorption in the food chain, [environmental toxicologist Paul Bertsch] raised tobacco plants in a hydroponic greenhouse. While the plants grew, the team added super-stable gold nanoparticles to the water to mimic consumer nanoparticles in wastewater sludge.
Gold nanoparticles built up in tobacco leaf tissue, and tobacco hornworms that ate the plants accumulated concentrations of the nanomaterials about 6 to 12 times higher than in the plant.
“We expected [nanoparticles] to accumulate, but not biomagnify like that,” said Bertsch, co-author of theDec. 3 study in Environmental Science & Technology.