It is difficult to relate intrinsic nanomaterial properties to their functional behavior in the environment. Unlike frameworks for dissolved organic chemicals, there are few frameworks comparing multiple and inter-related properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) to their fate, exposure, and hazard in environmental systems. We developed and evaluated reproducibility and inter-correlation of 12 physical, chemical, and biological functional assays in water for eight different engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and interpreted results using activity-profiling radar plots. The functional assays were highly reproducible when run in triplicate (average coefficient of variation [CV] = 6.6%). Radar plots showed that each nanomaterial exhibited unique activity profiles. Reactivity assays showed dissolution or aggregation potential for some ENMs. Surprisingly, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) exhibited movement in a magnetic field. We found high inter-correlations between cloud point extraction (CPE) and distribution to sewage sludge (R2 = 0.99), dissolution at pH 8 and pH 4.9 (R2 = 0.98), and dissolution at pH 8 and zebrafish mortality at 24 hpf (R2 = 0.94). Additionally, most ENMs tend to distribute out of water and into other phases (i.e., soil surfaces, surfactant micelles, and sewage sludge). The activity-profiling radar plots provide a framework and estimations of likely ENM disposition in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1609-1616
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018



  • Exposure
  • Fate
  • Hazard
  • Nanoparticle
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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