We live in times when among the most limited and precious resources on Earth are air and water. No matter the geographical location, the pollution spreads quickly, negatively affecting even the purest regions like Mount Everest.

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Like a Trojan Horse, Graphene Oxide can Act as a Carrier of Organic Pollutants to Fish

A study by the UPV/EHU’s CBET research group and the University of Bordeaux has shown that graphene oxide nanomaterials, alone and combined with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pose a potential source of toxicity to fish, but at concentrations that are above the currently expected environmental levels. Under the conditions used in the research, high toxicity has not been detected, although the alteration of certain biomarkers has been observed.

Graphene is a two-dimensional nanomaterial composed of carbon and formed by a single layer of densely packed carbon atoms. The high mechanical strength and significant electrical and thermal properties of graphene mean that it is highly suited to many new applications in the fields of electronics, biological, chemical and magnetic sensors, photodetectors and energy storage and generation. Due to its potential applications, graphene production is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, but given its low market uptake and the limitations in analysing its effects, little information on the concentrations of graphene nanomaterials in ecosystems is currently available.

As a result of the surface characteristics of graphene, once in the aquatic environment, graphene could act as a carrier of organic pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, to aquatic organisms. Accordingly, the CBET (Cell Biology in Environmental Toxicology) research group has evaluated not only the capacity of graphene oxide to sorb polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, but also the toxicity of graphene oxide alone and in combination with certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in embryo and adult zebrafish. The research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux.

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