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Biological effects of silver nanoparticles on yellow perch


Increased use of silver nanoparticles in consumer products has resulted in silver nanoparticles entering the environment. At the concentrations predicted to occur in the environment, it is unlikely that there will be direct mortalities to fish as a result of exposure. However, both silver nanoparticles and silver ion are bioavailable and produce sublethal toxic responses at μg/L concentrations. The mechanisms of uptake and toxicity are largely unknown, but may be due to properties of the nanoparticle itself, the release of silver ion, or a combination of both.

The goal of this research is to determine whether there are biological responses in fish exposed to silver nanoparticles at environmentally relevant concentrations. Using yellow perch (Perca flavescens) as a model test species, we will expose fish in the laboratory to determine whether there are differences in uptake and biological responses to exposure to silver nanoparticles and silver ion. These data will then be used to evaluate whether silver nanoparticles released into a natural lake ecosystem as part of a whole lake addition study at the Experimental Lakes Area, in northwestern Ontario, leads to accumulation of silver and biological responses in wild yellow perch. Ultimately, these results will inform risk assessment guidelines for nanomaterials in the aquatic environment

Program Name

National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG)


2014 - 2016


Central Canada: Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Freshwater Drainage Basin

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris Metcalfe
Environmental & Resource Studies Program
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario

Team Member(s)

Valérie Langlois, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario and Department of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario

Jonathan Martin, Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario

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