Research establishes tests for toxicological evaluation of nanomaterials in aquatic ecosystems

3 May, 2016
Cristina Cerrillo.

The thesis “Towards the standardization of nanoecotoxicity testing: Selection of environmentally relevant methods” by Cristina Cerrillo establishes the test methods for toxicological evaluation of nanomaterials, used increasingly in industry, in aquatic ecosystems.

“The latter are one of the most important ways to input and transfer nanomaterials (extremely small materials, between 1 and 100 nanometres (1 nm = 1.10-9 m) in food chains, but the lack of standardised protocols to evaluate their safety has given rise to uncertainties and conflicting results about their toxicity”, explains Cerrillo. Taking into account “the technological revolution that nanotechnology means” for industry and that, at the same time, natural resources and biodiversity “are fundamental assets for the survival of life on the planet”, the thesis tackles an increasingly important issue.

Cristina Cerrillo has carried out her research within the Zabalduz programme. This initiative, promoted by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), encourages enterprises, social institutions and organisations to transfer specific problems requiring knowledge based solutions to research projects for doctoral theses in progress.

Thus, this thesis, supervised by UPV/EHU Science and Technology Faculty professor Gotzone Barandika and IK4-Tekniker researcher Amaya Igartua, has been carried out within the framework of the European NANoREG project (part of a European Union Research and Technological Development programme), in which involved IK4-Tekniker is taking part. “There are various international initiatives to regulate or legislate the toxicological evaluation of nanomaterials; and this project aims to provide lawmakers with answers on environmental, health and safety issues of nanomaterials, connecting regulatory requirements with a scientific evaluation of data and test methods”, states the researcher.

Moreover, three articles were produced during preparation of the thesis, i.e. research concerning the results and conclusions of the thesis was successfully published in the leading scientific journals Science of the Total Environment and Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.


“Implementing programmes such as Zabalduz is key to achieving the innovation and competitiveness levels currently required in the socio-economic fabric, and is enabling, among other things, the transfer of knowledge between universities and companies in the Basque Country,” explains Cerrillo.

The Zabalduz programme also seeks to demonstrate that people with doctorates are not only valid for the university but also for businesses and social organisations. The aims of the Zabalduz programme, which was launched in 2013, are as follows: Gradually increase the number of doctors (PhDs); increase the R&D&I capability in all fields, favouring university-society knowledge transfer; help create skilled jobs in the business and social fabric; make PhD holders more employable in business; improve the valuation of the figure of the PhD holder in society as a key element in innovation processes in the productive and social environment; and create closer and stronger ties between the university and the productive and social environment, improving mutual knowledge. These are key factors for an innovative, knowledge based society.

Cristina Cerrillo

She studied Technical Architecture, Materials Engineering and did a Master in Research at the University of Extremadura. She holds a PhD in Materials Science and Technology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). She is currently working in IK4-Tekniker in the field of the nanoecotoxicity.

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