Influence of daylight on the fate of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles in natural aquatic environments.Environ Pollut. 2017 Jul; 226:1-11.EP
Nanoparticles, such as silver (Ag-NP) and zinc oxide (ZnO-NP), are increasingly used in many consumer products. These nanoparticles (NPs) will likely be exposed to the aquatic environment (rain, river, lake water) and to light (visible and UV) in the products where they are applied, or after those products are discharged. Dissolution of Ag-NP and ZnO-NP is an important process because the dissolved Ag+ and Zn2+ are readily available and toxic for aquatic organisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of daylight (UV and visible) for the fate of engineered Ag-NP and ZnO-NPs in different types of natural waters. Ag-NP and ZnO-NP were exposed to rainwater, river Rhine, and lake waters (Greifen, Lucerne, Cristallina, Gruère) under different light conditions (no light, UV 300-400 nm and visible light 400-700 nm) for up to 8 days. Stronger agglomeration of Ag-NP was observed in the waters with higher ionic strength in comparison to those with lower ionic strength. Visible light tended to increase the dissolution of Ag-NP under most natural water conditions in comparison to dark conditions, whereas UV-light led to decreased dissolved Ag+ after longer exposure time. These effects illustrate the dynamic interactions of Ag-NP with light, which may lead both to increased oxidation and to increased reduction of Ag+ by organic compounds under UV-light. In the case of ZnO-NP, agglomeration occurred at higher ionic strength, but the effects of pH were predominant for dissolution, which occurred up to concentrations close to the solubility limit of ZnO(s) at pH around 8.2 and to nearly complete dissolution of ZnO-NP at lower pH (pH 4.8-6.5), with both visible and UV-light facilitating dissolution. This study thus shows that light conditions play an important role in the dissolution processes of nanoparticles.