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First Author: ZOU Xiaoyan

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are increasingly used in various commercial products. This increased use raises ecological concerns because of the large release of AgNPs into the environment. Once released, the local water chemistry has the potential to influence the environmental fates and behaviors of AgNPs. The impacts of dissolved oxygen and natural organic matter (NOM) on the dissolution and stability of AgNPs were investigated in synthetic and natural freshwaters for 7 days. In synthetic freshwater, the aggregation of AgNPs occurred due to the compression of the electric double layer, accompanied by the dissolution of AgNPs. However, once oxygen was removed, the highest dissolved Ag (Agdis) concentration decreased from 356.5 μg/L to 272.1 μg/L, the pH of the AgNP suspensions increased from less than 7.6 to more than 8.4, and AgNPs were regenerated by the reduction of released Ag+ by citrate. The addition of NOM mitigated aggregation, inhibited oxidative dissolution and induced the transformation of AgNPs into Ag2S due to the formation of NOM-adsorbed layers, the reduction of Ag+ by NOM, and the high affinity of sulfur-enriched species in NOM for Ag. Likewise, in oxygen-depleted natural freshwaters, the inhibition of oxidative dissolution was obtained in comparison with oxygenated freshwaters, showing a decrease in the maximum Agdis concentration from 137.6 and 57.0 μg/L to 83.3 and 42.4 μg/L from two natural freshwater sites. Our results suggested that aggregation and dissolution of AgNPs in aquatic environments depend on the chemical composition, where oxygen-depleted freshwaters more significantly increase the colloidal stability. In comparison with oxic conditions, anoxic conditions were more favorable to the regeneration of AgNPs by reducing species (e.g., citrate and NOM) and enhanced the stability of nanoparticles. This indicates that some AgNPs will be more stable for long periods in oxygen-deprived freshwaters, and pose more serious environmental risks than that in oxygenated freshwaters.

Contact the author: ZHANG Hongwu
Page Number: 674-682
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PubYear: 2017
Volume: 230
The full text link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.07.007