Investigation of the Effect of Engineered Nano-Titanium Dioxide on Heavy Metals Contamination in Aquatic Environments

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD. Student, School of Environment, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Prof., School of Environment, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Material and Energy Research Center, Karaj, Iran

4 Prof., Dept. of Inorganic Chemistry, Crystallography and Mineralogy, Malaga, Spain


Due to strong oxidizing properties, titanium dioxide or titania nanoparticles are widely used in the water and wastewater treatment industry to remove or reduce various contaminants. The extraordinary properties of titania have led to the neglect of its side effects on the environment, especially on the aquatic ecosystems. In this study, different concentrations of titania nanoparticles were used over a period of 96 hours in lab scale to evaluate their impact on the heavy metals distribution in an aqueous media. The sediment samples of Anzali wetland contaminated with heavy metals were applied in all experiments. The results revealed that arsenic (As) was strongly affected by titania nanoparticles and its exchangeable bonds were desorbed from the sediment. Subsequently, 50 ppb titania led to concentration of As in the water column, which increased from 0 to 9 ppb. In addition to As, nickel (Ni) was desorbed from sediment through the separation of its organic bonds. On the other hand, 50 ppb titania reduced the concentrations of manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in the water column from 42, 32 and 29 ppb to 17.7, 2.87 and 20.9 ppb, respectively. According to the chemical extraction analysis, heavy metals adsorption in the sediment was mainly in the form of exchangeable and sulfide bonds. However, lead (Pb) and cobalt (Co) were not affected by titania and exhibited a conservative behavior.


Carbonell-Barrachina, A., Jugsujinda, A., Delaune, R., Patrick Jr, W., Burló, F., Sirisukhodom, S., et al. 1999. The influence of redox chemistry and pH on chemically active forms of arsenic in sewage sludge-amended soil. Environment International, 25, 613-618.
Chakhari, W., Naceur, J. B., Taieb, S. B., Assaker, I. B. & Chtourou, R. 2017. Fe-doped TiO2 nanorods with enhanced electrochemical properties as efficient photoanode materials. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 708, 862-870.
Domingos, R. F., Tufenkji, N. & Wilkinson, K. J. 2009. Aggregation of titanium dioxide nanoparticles: role of a fulvic acid. Environmental Science and Technology, 43, 1282-1286.
Du Laing, G., De Vos, R., Vandecasteele, B., Lesage, E., Tack, F. M. & Verloo, M. G. 2008. Effect of salinity on heavy metal mobility and availability in intertidal sediments of the Scheldt estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 77, 589-602.
Fan, X., Wang, C., Wang, P., Hu, B. & Wang, X. 2018. TiO2 nanoparticles in sediments: effect on the bioavailability of heavy metals in the freshwater bivalve Corbicula fluminea. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 342, 41-50.
Fan, X., Wang, P., Wang, C., Hu, B. & Wang, X. 2017. Lead accumulation (adsorption and absorption) by the freshwater. bivalve Corbicula fluminea in sediments contaminated by TiO2 nanoparticles. Environmental Pollution, 231, 712-721.
Gottschalk, F. & Nowack, B. 2011. The release of engineered nanomaterials to the environment. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 13, 1145-1155.
Kalyanasundaram, K. 2013. Photochemical applications of solar energy: photocatalysis and photodecomposition of water. Photochemistry, 41, 182-265.
Kang, X., Liu, S., Dai, Z., He, Y., Song, X. & Tan, Z. 2019. Titanium dioxide: from engineering to applications. Catalysts, 9(2), 191.
Karbassi, A. & Marefat, A. 2017. The impact of increased oxygen conditions on heavy metal flocculation in the Sefidrud estuary. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 121, 168-175.
Karbassi, A., Nouri, J., Mehrdadi, N. & Ayaz, G. 2008. Flocculation of heavy metals during mixing of freshwater with Caspian Sea water. Environmental Geology, 53, 1811-1816.
Liu, B., Yang, J., Zhao, X. & Yu, J. 2017. The role of electron interfacial transfer in mesoporous nano-TiO2 photocatalysis: a combined study of in situ photoconductivity and numerical kinetic simulation. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 19, 8866-8873.
Luo, Z., Wang, Z., Wei, Q., Yan, C. & Liu, F. 2011. Effects of engineered nano-titanium dioxide on pore surface properties and phosphorus adsorption of sediment: its environmental implications. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 192, 1364-1369.
Maurer-Jones, M. A., Gunsolus, I. L., Murphy, C. J. & Haynes, C. L. 2013. Toxicity of engineered nanoparticles in the environment. Analytical Chemistry, 85, 3036-3049.
Miao, S., Delaune, R. & Jugsujinda, A. 2006. Influence of sediment redox conditions on release/solubility of metals and nutrients in a Louisiana Mississippi River deltaic plain freshwater lake. Science of the Total Environment, 371, 334-343.
Nasrabadi, T., Nabi Bidhendi, G., Karbassi, A. & Mehrdadi, N. 2010. Partitioning of metals in sediments of the Haraz River (Southern Caspian Sea basin). Environmental Earth Sciences, 59, 1111-1117.
Saratale, R. G., Karuppusamy, I., Saratale, G. D., Pugazhendhi, A., Kumar, G., Park, Y., et al. 2018. A comprehensive review on green nanomaterials using biological systems: recent perception and their future applications. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 170, 20-35.
Sun, H., Zhang, X., Zhang, Z., Chen, Y. & Crittenden, J. C. 2009. Influence of titanium dioxide nanoparticles on speciation and bioavailability of arsenite. Environmental Pollution, 157, 1165-1170.
Tessier, A., Campbell, P. G. & Bisson, M. 1979. Sequential extraction procedure for the speciation of particulate trace metals. Analytical Chemistry, 51, 844-851.
Yin, Z., Song, L., Song, H., Hui, K., Lin, Z., Wang, Q., et al. 2020. Remediation of copper contaminated sediments by granular activated carbon-supported titanium dioxide nanoparticles: mechanism study and effect on enzyme activities. Science of the Total Environment, 741, 139962.
Zhang, C., Yu, Z. G., Zeng, G. M., Jiang, M., Yang, Z. Z., Cui, F., et al. 2014. Effects of sediment geochemical properties on heavy metal bioavailability. Environment International, 73, 270-281.
Zhang, X., Sun, H., Zhang, Z., Niu, Q., Chen, Y. & Crittenden, J. C. 2007. Enhanced bioaccumulation of cadmium in carp in the presence of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Chemosphere, 67, 160-166.
Zoumis, T., Schmidt, A., Grigorova, L. & Calmano, W. 2001. Contaminants in sediments: remobilisation and demobilisation. Science of the Total Environment, 266, 195-202.