ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) can reach soil in both deliberate and non-deliberate ways, which leads to contamination. Notwithstanding knowledge about ZnO-NPs impacts on earthworms inhabiting these soils is limited and gaps appear in the recovery of damaged functions after their migration to unpolluted environments. To estimate these impacts, earthworms (Eisenia andrei) were exposed to different concentrations of coated ZnO-NPs (20, 250, 500, 1000 mgZnkg) in an acidic agricultural soil (pH 5.4) for 28 days. Subsequently, earthworms were placed in the same unpolluted soil to study the depletion of Zn accumulated and the recovery potential of the affected functions for another 28-day period.In the exposure phase, ecotoxicological responses were dose-dependent. Mortality and growth were affected at 500 and 1000 mg kg, and the reproduction was impaired from 250 mgZnkg compared to control (54% fecundity and 80% fertility reduction). Zn uptake increased with coated ZnO-NPs in soil but it did not exceed 163 mgZnkg earthworm. During the recovery period, the Zn in earthworms were similar to the control regardless of the initially Zn accumulated. Reproduction parameters returned to the control values in the animals pre-exposed to 250 mgZnkg as coated ZnO-NP. In the earthworms preexposed to the two highest doses, growth and fertility were stimulated compared to the control when placed in clean soil, but not fecundity. However, the total hatchlings number did not reach the control figures after 28 days, but probably would for in longer times, which would be key for maintaining earthworm populations.
About The Expert
María Dolores Fernández