Nanoparticle silver released into water from commercially available sock fabrics

Troy M. Benn, Paul Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1464 Scopus citations


Manufacturers of clothing articles employ nanosilver (n-Ag) as an antimicrobial agent, but the environmental impacts of n-Ag release from commercial products are unknown. The quantity and form of the nanomaterials released from consumer products should be determined to assess the environmental risks of nanotechnology. This paper investigates silver released from commercial clothing (socks) into water, and its fate in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Six types of socks contained up to a maximum of 1360 μg-Ag/g-sock and leached as much as 650 μg of silver in 500 mL of distilled water. Microscopy conducted on sock material and wash water revealed the presence of silver particles from 10 to 500 nm in diameter. Physical separation and ion selective electrode (ISE) analyses suggest that both colloidal and ionic silver leach from the socks. Variable leaching rates among sock types suggests that the sock manufacturing process may control the release of silver. The adsorption of the leached silver to WWTP biomass was used to develop a model which predicts that a typical wastewater treatment facility could treat a high concentration of influent silver. However, the high silver concentration may limit the disposal of the biosolids as agricultural fertilizer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4133-4139
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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