The increasing usage of nanosilver in textiles can harm the environment since nanosilver has a higher antimicrobial efficacy as compared to bulk silver, says a recent study.
Nanotechnology is considered a major means of assisting environmental protection, avoiding increasing health care expenses, improving medical treatments as well as coping with energy and resource limitations. However, emissions of nanoparticles may also be associated with environmental risks and adverse health effects.
The study on the ‘Prospective Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Nanosilver T-shirts’ by a group of researchers from the Institute for Environmental Engineering in Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, focuses on the potential merits and shortcomings of nanosilver textiles which has a higher antimicrobial efficacy because of its large and highly reactive specific surface area as well as its higher dissolution rate.
Speaking to fibre2fashion, Tobias Walser, the lead researcher at the Institute, said, “The objective of our study is to compare the environmental benefits and impacts of nanosilver T-shirts with conventional T-shirts and T-shirts treated with triclosan, a commonly applied biocide to prevent textiles from emitting undesirable odors.”
“Though, nanoscale colloidal silver has been widely applied in textiles from the last decades, the growing number of products containing engineered nanosilver calls for comprehensive as well as prospective environmental assessments. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been proposed to be a key to such comprehensive environmental assessments,” he informs.
According to him, LCA is an established tool for identifying environmental “hot spots” and for comparing products that provide the same services.
LCA begins with the investigation on environmental performance of two production technologies, such as commercialized flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) with melt-spun incorporation of silver nanoparticles and plasma polymerization with silver cosputtering on the laboratory, and an estimated commercial scale of the production process.
Secondly, the environmental impacts of conventional, nanosilver, and triclosan T-shirts are compared, with respect to the production, use, and disposal phase. Finally, an adapted formative scenario analysis (FSA)16 is applied to assess the environmental performance of nanosilver T-shirts considering both quantitative and qualitative future developments.
Mr. Walser says, “The ecotoxic impact of nanosilver emissions to the waste water is small in comparison to the overall ecotoxicity of the life cycle of a nanosilver T-shirt. However, local emissions might reach concentrations that can harm the environment, as studies from Risk Assessment have shown.”
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India