Silver-Nanoparticles: Ecotoxicity of silver nanoparticles

I have just read about this new process for self-sterilizing polymer surfaces. In fact it seems to have many industrial applications. I am quite worrying about the environmental concerns of the use of silver containing nanoparticles. Many studies showed a clear evidence of the toxicity of silver nanoparticles and free ions on microbial microorganisms and fishes. The industrial use of these particles will necessarly lead to a release of the silver containing calcium phosphate particles into the environment. First, the high bioavailability of these particles to microorganisms, makes them more toxic compared to other forms of silver. The release of these particles to wastewaters and therefore wastewater treatment plants could cause significant problems in the nitrification process of ammonia. Second, silver is a heavy metal and will not be degradated in the environment, thus affecting rivers and lakes. Especially toxicity to fishes shows the importance of regulating the use of such heavy metals. I think that this new sterilizing process should only be used in some special application fields such as medicine and that a large scale application is to be avoided knowing the environmental effects. Before thinking about commercial issues, the impacts of possible applications should be studied. References: Okkyoung Choi, and Zhiqiang Hu, Size Dependent and Reactive Oxygen Species Related Nanosilver Toxicity to Nitrifying Bacteria Okkyoung Cho et al., The inhibitory effects of silver nanoparticles, silver ions, and silver chloride colloids on microbial growth. Chris M. Wood et al. The physiology of waterborne silver toxicity in freshwater rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Pirmin Borer, EPFL - 22.01.09

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