Effects of micronized and nano-copper azole on marine benthic communities

Kay T. Ho*, Lisa Portis, Anthony A. Chariton, Marguerite Pelletier, Mark Cantwell, David Katz, Michaela Cashman, Ashley Parks, Jeffrey G. Baguley, Nathan Conrad-Forrest, Warren Boothman, Todd Luxton, Stuart L. Simpson, Sandra Fogg, Robert M. Burgess

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The widespread use of copper nanomaterials (CuNMs) as antibacterial and antifouling agents in consumer products increases the risk for metal contamination and adverse effects in aquatic environments. Information gaps exist on the potential toxicity of CuNMs in marine environments. We exposed field-collected marine meio- and macrobenthic communities to sediments spiked with micronized copper azole (MCA) using a novel method that brings intact benthic cores into the laboratory and exposes the organisms via surface application of sediments. Treatments included field and laboratory controls, 3 spiked sediments: low-MCA (51.9mg/kg sediment), high-MCA (519mg/kg sediment), and CuSO4 (519mg/kg sediment). In addition, single-species acute testing was performed with both MCA and CuSO4. Our results indicate that meio- and macrofaunal assemblages exposed to High-MCA and CuSO4 treatments differed significantly from both the laboratory control and the low-MCA treatments. Differences in macrofauna were driven by decreases in 3 Podocopa ostracod species, the bivalve Gemma gemma, and the polychaetes Exogone verugera and Prionospio heterobranchia relative to the laboratory control. Differences in the meiofaunal community are largely driven by nematodes. The benthic community test results were more sensitive than the single-species test results. Findings of this investigation indicate that CuNMs represent a source of risk to marine benthic communities comparable to that of dissolved Cu. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;9999:1-14. Published 2017 Wiley Periodicals Inc. on behalf of SETAC. This article is a US government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362–375
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • nano-copper
  • micronized copper azole
  • copper
  • benthic community
  • sediment
  • macrofauna
  • meiofauna


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