Odor-Eating Silver Nanoparticles Raise Concern

Nanotechnology is now everywhere, including, quite possibly, on your feet. Valued for its antibacterial and odor-fighting properties, nanoparticle silver is becoming the star attraction in a range of products from socks to bandages to washing machines. But is it also getting into the water supply and posing unknown risks? That is a question scientists at Arizona State University set out to answer. They presented their findings April 6 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in a report they titled "Fate and transport of ionic and nanoparticle silver released from commercially available socks."

“This is the first report of anyone looking at the release of silver from this type of manufactured clothing product,” said report authors Paul Westerhoff and Troy M. Benn, who bought six pairs of name brand anti-odor socks impregnated with nanosilver and then soaked them in a jar of room-temperature distilled water and shook the contents for an hour. They then tested the water for two types of silver--the harmful “ionic” form and the less-studied nanoparticle variety. The results? Ordinary laundering can wash off substantial amounts of the nanosilver particles from socks impregnated with the material. The researchers suggest that the particles, intended to prevent foot odor, could travel through a wastewater treatment system and enter natural waterways where they might have unwanted effects on aquatic organisms living in the water and possibly humans, too.

“From what we saw, different socks released silver at different rates, suggesting that there may be a manufacturing process that will keep the silver in the socks better,” said Benn. “Some of the sock materials released all of the silver in the first few washings, others gradually released it. Some didn’t release any silver.” He added that if sufficient nanosilver leeches out of these socks and escapes wastewater treatment systems into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams, it could damage aquatic ecosystems. Ionic silver, the dissolved form of the element, does not just attack odor-causing bacteria. It can also hijack chemical processes essential for life in other microbes and aquatic animals. “If you start releasing ionic silver, it is detrimental to all aquatic biota. Once the silver ions get into the gills of fish, it’s a pretty efficient killer,” Benn said, adding that ionic silver is toxic to humans only at very high levels. The toxicity of nanoparticle silver, said Westerhoff, has yet to be determined.

Westerhoff's and Benn's research will appear in an upcoming issue of Environmental Science & Technology. For more information, meanwhile, visit http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i15/8615news1.html.


Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data and Maintain OSHA Compliance

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus