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Approach on environmental risk assessment of nanosilver released from textiles

: Voelker, Doris; Schlich, Karsten; Hohndorf, Lars; Koch, Wolfgang; Kuehnen, Ute; Polleichtner, Christian; Kussatz, Carola; Hund-Rinke, Kerstin


Environmental research 140 (2015), pp.661-672
ISSN: 0013-9351
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()
Nanosilver; textile; environmental risk assessment; PEC; PNEC

Based on the increased utilization of nanosilver (silver nanomaterials=AgNM) as antibacterial agent, there is the strong need to assess the potential environmental implication associated with its new application areas. In this study an exemplary environmental risk assessment (ERA) of AgNM applied in textiles was performed. Environmental exposure scenarios (via municipal sewage treatment plant (STP)) with wastewater supply from domestic homes) were developed for three different types of textiles equipped with AgNM. Based on these scenarios predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) were deduced for STPs and for the environmental compartments surface water, sediment as well as soil. These PECs were related to PNECs (predicted no effect concentrations). PNECs were deduced from results of ecotoxicity tests of a selected AgNM (NM-300K). Data on ecotoxicology were derived from various tests with activated sludge, cyanobacteria, algae, daphnids, fish, duckweed, macrophytes, chironomids, earthworms, terrestrial plants as well as soil microorganisms. Emission data for the AgNM NM-300K from textiles were derived from washing experiments. The performed ERA was based on the specifications defined in the ECHA Guidances on information requirements and chemical safety assessment. Based on the chosen scenarios and preconditions, no environmental risk of the AgNM NM-300K released from textiles was detected. Under conservative assumptions a risk quotient for surface water close to 1 indicated that the aquatic compartment may be affected by an increased emission of AgNM to the environment due to the high sensitivity of aquatic organisms to silver. Based on the successful retention of AgNM in the sewage sludge and the still ongoing continual application of sewage sludge on farmland it is recommended to introduce a threshold for total silver content in sewage sludge into the respective regulations. Regarding potential risk mitigation measures, it is emphasized to preferably directly introduce AgNM into the textile fiber since this will strongly minimize the release of AgNM during washing. If this is not possible due to technical limitations or other reasons, the introduction of a threshold level controlling the release of AgNM from textiles is suggested. It has to be noted that this study is a case study which is only valid for the investigated NM-300K and its potential application in textiles.