Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Total Environ. 2008 Feb 15;390(2-3):396-409. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Estimation of cumulative aquatic exposure and risk due to silver: contribution of nano-functionalized plastics and textiles.

Author information

Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zürich, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


Products with antimicrobial effect based on silver nanoparticles are increasingly used in Asia, North America and Europe. This study presents an analysis of risk to freshwater ecosystems from silver released from these nanoparticles incorporated into textiles and plastics. The analysis is presented in four stages; (i) silver mass flow analysis and estimation of emissions, (ii) assessment of the fate of silver in a river system and estimation of predicted environmental concentrations (PECs), (iii) critical evaluation of available toxicity data for environmentally relevant forms of silver and estimation of predicted no-effect concentrations (PNECs), and (iv) risk characterization. Our assessment is based on estimated silver use in the year 2010, focusing on the Rhine river as a case study. In 2010, biocidal plastics and textiles are predicted to account for up to 15% of the total silver released into water in the European Union. The majority of silver released into wastewater is incorporated into sewage sludge and may be spread on agricultural fields. The amount of silver reaching natural waters depends on the fraction of wastewater that is effectively treated. Modeled PECs in the Rhine river are in satisfactory agreement with monitoring data from other river systems. Because a complete characterization of the toxicity of environmentally relevant silver species is lacking, only a limited risk assessment is possible at this time. However, our study indicates that PEC/PNEC ratios greater than 1 cannot be ruled out for freshwater ecosystems, in particular sediments. No risk is predicted for microbial communities in sewage treatment plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center