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Environ Sci Process Impacts. 2013 Dec;15(12):2186-93. doi: 10.1039/c3em00331k.

Release of TiO2 from paints containing pigment-TiO2 or nano-TiO2 by weathering.

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Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology, Laboratory for Analytical Chemistry, Überlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


The release of nanomaterials from products and applications that are used by industry and consumers has only been studied to a very limited extent. The amount and the characteristics of the released particles determine the potential environmental exposure. In this work we investigated the release of Ti from paints containing pigment-TiO2 and nano-TiO2. Panels covered with paint with and without nano-TiO2 were exposed to simulated weathering by sunlight and rain in climate chambers. The same paints were also studied in small-scale leaching tests to elucidate the influence of various parameters on the release such as composition of water, type of support and UV-light. Under all conditions we only observed a very low release close to background values, less than 1.5 μg l(-1) in the climate chamber over 113 irrigations per drying cycle and between 0.5 and 14 μg l(-1) in the leaching tests, with the highest concentrations observed after prolonged UV-exposure. The actual release of Ti over the 113 weathering cycles was only 0.007% of the total Ti, indicating that TiO2 was strongly bound in the paint. Extraction of UV-exposed and then milled paint resulted in about 100-times larger release of Ti from the nano-TiO2 containing paint whereas the paint with only pigment-TiO2 did not show this increase. This indicated that the release of Ti from the paints is an effect of the addition of nano-TiO2, either by photocatalytic degradation of the organic paint matrix (observed by electron microscopic imaging of the paint surface) or by direct release of nano-TiO2. Our work suggests that paints containing nano-TiO2 may release only very limited amounts of materials into the environment, at least over the time-scales investigated in this work.

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