There is increasing interest in the environmental fate and effects of engineered nanomaterials due to their ubiquitous use in consumer products. In particular, given the mounting evidence that dramatic transformations can occur to a nanomaterial throughout its product lifecycle, the appropriateness of using pristine nanomaterials in environmental testing is being questioned. Using a combination of transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), this work examines the morphological and compositional effects of conditions mimicking a typical lifecycle of a nano-enabled product, from the production of the silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-laden textiles, through its use, laundering, and then finally, its leaching and incubation in the wastewater collection system. These simulated weathering conditions showed evidence for the transformation of AgNPs into AgCl and Ag2S. Incubation in raw wastewater had the most dramatic effect on the AgNPs in terms of transformation, no matter what initial weathering was applied to the NPs prior to incubation. However, despite extensive transformation noted, AgNPs were still present within all the samples after the use scenarios.
Keywords: EDS; ICP-MS; Silver (Ag); TEM; XPS; life cycle; nanoparticle.