Potential Environmental Impacts and Antimicrobial Efficacy of Silver- and Nanosilver-Containing Textiles.

TitlePotential Environmental Impacts and Antimicrobial Efficacy of Silver- and Nanosilver-Containing Textiles.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsReed, RB, Zaikova, T, Barber, A, Simonich, SLMassey, Lankone, R, Marco, M, Hristovski, K, Herckes, P, Passantino, L, D Fairbrother, H, Tanguay, R, Ranville, JF, Hutchison, JE, Westerhoff, PK
JournalEnviron Sci Technol
Date Published2016 Apr 05
KeywordsAnimals, Anti-Infective Agents, Detergents, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Environment, Escherichia coli, light, Metal Nanoparticles, Silver, Textiles, Time Factors, Water Pollutants, Chemical, Zebrafish

For textiles containing nanosilver, we assessed benefit (antimicrobial efficacy) in parallel with potential to release nanosilver (impact) during multiple life cycle stages. The silver loading and method of silver attachment to the textile highly influenced the silver release during washing. Multiple sequential simulated household washing experiments for fabric swatches in deionized water with or without detergent showed a range of silver release. The toxicity of washing experiment supernatants to zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos was negligible, with the exception of the very highest Ag releases (∼1 mg/L Ag). In fact, toxicity tests indicated that residual detergent exhibited greater adverse response than the released silver. Although washing the fabrics did release silver, it did not affect their antimicrobial efficacy, as demonstrated by >99.9% inhibition of E. coli growth on the textiles, even for textiles that retained as little as 2 μg/g Ag after washing. This suggests that very little nanosilver is required to control bacterial growth in textiles. Visible light irradiation of the fabrics reduced the extent of Ag release for textiles during subsequent washings. End-of-life experiments using simulated landfill conditions showed that silver remaining on the textile is likely to continue leaching from textiles after disposal in a landfill.

Alternate JournalEnviron. Sci. Technol.
PubMed ID26927927