The Behavior of Silver Nanotextiles during Washing

The widespread use of silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) in commercial products, especially textiles, will likely result in an unknown spread of Ag into the environment. The quantification and characterization of the Ag released from nano-Ag-products is an important parameter needed to predict the effect of Ag-NPs on the environment. The aim of this study was to determine the amount and the form of Ag released during washing from nine fabrics with different ways of silver incorporation into or onto the fibers. The effect of pH, surfactants, and oxidizing agents was evaluated. The results show that little dissolution of Ag-NPs occurs under conditions relevant to washing (pH 10) with dissolved concentrations 10 times lower than at pH 7. However, bleaching agents such as hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid (formed by the perborate/TAED system) can greatly accelerate the dissolution of Ag. The amount and form of Ag released from the fabrics as ionic and particulate Ag depended on the type of Ag-incorporation into the textile. The percentage of the total silver emitted during one washing of the textiles varied considerably among products (from less than 1 to 45%). In the washing machine the majority of the Ag (at least 50% but mostly >75%) was released in the size fraction >450 nm, indicating the dominant role of mechanical stress. A conventional silver textile did not show any significant difference in the size distribution of the released silver compared to many of the textiles containing nano-Ag. These results have important implications for the risk assessment of Ag-textiles and also for environmental fate studies of nano-Ag, because they show that under conditions relevant to washing, primarily coarse Ag-containing particles are released.

Leave a Reply