Ecotoxicological Effects of Nano-Sized Titanium Dioxide Particles

BF TiO2 im Pharynx

accumulated Nano-TiO2 in the pharynx of C.elegans

Engineered nanoparticles are used in a variety of consumer products like cosmetics, wall paints and even food products and tooth paste. The widespread use of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) will lead to an emission of these contaminants to the aquatic environment, e.g. via urban and industrial waste waters. While the number of nanoparticle related applications is steadily increasing, the potential effects of ENPs on human health and the environment are still poorly understood.

With a particle size below 100 nm, nanoparticles are in the same order of magnitude as biochemical macromolecules and therefore able to enter animal or plant cells and interact in biological processes. For this reason, there is a strong need of understanding nanoparticles behavior in the environment and effects to organisms and ecosystems.

This study analyses the potential environmental risks of Titanium Dioxide ENPs by using Caenorhabditis elegans as an ecotoxicological model. C.elegans is a soil living nematode that is used for ecotoxicological testing of sediment, water and soil samples. The focus of this study is the impact of light exposure on the ecotoxicity of the particles as well as the particles effects on co-contaminants.

Project Information

Partly funded by: Pro Exzellenzia
Project duration: 2010-2013
Team Members: Prof. Susanne Heise, PD Dr. Wolfgang Ahlf (TU Hamburg-Harburg), Dr. Judith Angelstorf

Project partners:
TUHH, PD Dr. Wolfgang Ahlf

This study contributed to the  “Sponsorship Programme for Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials” of the OECD.


Angelstorf, J.S., Ahlf, W., von der Kammer, F., Heise, S. (2014): Impact of particle size and light exposure on the effects of TiO2 nanoparticles on Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, accepted manuscript DOI: 10.1002/etc.2674.
Nickel, C., Angelstorf J., Bienert, R., Burkart, C., Gabsch, S., Giebner, S., Haase, A., Hellack, B., Hollert, H., Hund-Rinke, K., Jungmann, D., Kaminski, H., Luch, A., Maes, H., Nogowski, A., Oetken, M., Schaeffer, A., Schiwy, A., Schlich, K., Stintz, M., Kammer, F., Kuhlbusch, T.J. (2014): Dynamic light-scattering measurement comparability of nanomaterial suspensions. J Nanopart Res 16: 1-12.


Angelstorf, J., Ahlf, W., Heise, S. (2013). „Effects of TiO 2 Particles on Caenorhabditis elegans: Impact of Size and Light Exposure” Posterpräsentation, SETAC Europe Glasgow, Mai 2013.

Angelstorf, J., Ahlf, W., Heise, S. (2012). „Photocatalytic Effects of TiO2 Nanoparticles: Is there an Impact on the Ecotoxicity of PAHs?” Poster SETAC World Berlin, 23.05.2012

Angelstorf, J., Ahlf, W., Heise, S. (2011). „Ecotoxicity of photocatalytically active titanium dioxide nanoparticles: A model  study with Caenorhabditis elegans.” Poster, SETAC Europe Mailand, 18.05.20011