Due to the widespread use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in consumer and industrial products, concerns have been raised over their impacts once released into the ecosystems. While there has been a wealth of studies on the short-term acute toxic effects of ENMs over the past decade, work on the chronic endpoints, such as biological accumulation, has just begun to increase in last 2-3 years. Here, we comprehensively review over 65 papers on the biological accumulation of ENMs under a range of ecologically relevant exposure conditions in water, soil or sediment with the focus on quantitative comparison among these existing studies. We found that daphnid, fish, and earthworm are the most commonly studied ecological receptors. Current evidence suggests that ENM accumulation level is generally low in fish and earthworms with logarithmic bioconcentration concentration factor and biota-sediment accumulation factor ranging from 0.85-3.43 (L kg-1) and -2.21-0.4 (kg kg-1), respectively. ENMs accumulated in organisms at the lower trophic level can transfer to higher trophic level animals with the occurrence of biomagnification varying depending on the specific food chain studied. We conclude the review by identifying the challenges and knowledge gaps and propose paths forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 6 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Biological accumulation of engineered nanomaterials: A review of current knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this