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The influence of size on the toxicity of an encapsulated pesticide: a comparison of micron- and nano-sized capsules

TitleThe influence of size on the toxicity of an encapsulated pesticide: a comparison of micron- and nano-sized capsules
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMeredith AN, Harper B, Harper S
JournalEnviron Int
Date Published2016 Jan

Encapsulation technology involves entrapping a chemical active ingredient (a.i.) inside a hollow polymeric shell and has been applied to commercial pesticide manufacturing for years to produce capsule suspension (CS) formulations with average particle sizes in the micron-scale. The few literature sources that investigate the environmental fate and toxicity to non-target organisms of encapsulated commercially available pesticide products with regard to capsule size report on average sizes between 20 and 50μm. Here, we have identified a CS formulation with an average capsule size of approximately 2μm with some capsules extending into the nanometer scale (~200nm). Determining how carrier size influences toxicity is important to understanding if current pesticide risk assessments are sufficient to protect against products that incorporate encapsulation technology. Here, a commercial pyrethroid CS pesticide with lambda-cyhalothrin (λ-Cy) as the a.i. was separated into two suspensions, a fraction consisting of nano-sized capsules (~250nm) and a fraction of micron-sized capsules (~2200nm) in order to investigate the influence of capsule size on toxicity to embryonic zebrafish, Danio rerio. Toxicity was evaluated 24h after exposure to equivalent amounts of a.i. by the presence and severity of pyrethroid-specific tremors, 14 sublethal developmental impacts and mortality. Fish exposed to greater than 20μg a.i. L(-1) technical λ-Cy or formulated product experienced curvature of the body axis, pericardial edema, craniofacial malformations, and mortality. Exposure to the unfractionated formulation, micro fraction, nano fraction and technical a.i. resulted in no significant differences in the occurrence of sublethal impacts or mortality; however, the technical a.i. exposure resulted in significantly less fish experiencing tremors and shorter tremors compared to any of the formulated product exposures. This suggests that the capsule size does not influence the toxic response of the entrapped λ-Cy, but the presence or absence of the capsules does. Testing across other encapsulated products is needed to determine if size does not have influence on toxicity regardless of encapsulation technology.

Alternate JournalEnviron Int
PubMed ID26540086
Project Reference: 
Effects of Pesticide Nanotechnology on Vulnerable Organisms

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