Empa Press release: Silver in the washing machine

The antibacterial properties of silver-coated textiles are popular in the fields of sport and medicine. A team of Swiss researchers at Empa has now investigated how different silver coatings behave in the washing machine, and they have discovered something important: textiles with nano-coatings release fewer nanoparticles into the washing water than those with normal coatings.


If it contains 'nano', it doesn't primarily leak 'nano': at least that's true for silver-coated textiles, explains Bernd Nowack of the «Technology and Society» division at Empa. During each wash cycle a certain amount of the silver coating is washed out of the textiles and ends up in the waste water. Empa analysed this water; it turned out that nano-coated textiles release hardly any nano-particles. That's quite the opposite to ordinary coatings, where a lot of different silver particles were found. Moreover, nano-coated silver textiles generally lose less silver during washing. This is because considerably less silver is incorporated into textile fabrics with nano-coating, and so it is released in smaller quantities for the antibacterial effect than is the case with ordinary coatings. A surprising result that has a transformative effect on future analyses and on the treatment of silver textiles. «All silver textiles behave in a similar manner - regardless of whether they are nano-coated or conventionally-coated,» says Nowack. This is why nano-textiles should not be subjected to stricter regulation than textiles with conventional silver-coatings, and this is relevant for current discussions concerning possible special regulations for nano-silver......


The complete press release can be accessed via the following link http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/1358/148896/......



Mitrano D.M., Rimmele E., Wichser A., Erni R., Height M., Nowack B. (2014). Presence of Nanoparticles in Wash Water from Conventional Silver and Nano-silver Textiles. ACS Nano. dx.doi.org/10.1021/nn502228w



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