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Environmental Science and Technology
Vol. 45, No: 1, 2011, Pages: 283 - 7

Surface charge-dependent toxicity of silver nanoparticles

El Badawy AM, Silva RG, Morris B, Scheckel KG, Suidan MT, Tolaymat TM

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.


As a result of the extensive number of applications of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), their potential impacts, once released into the environment, are of concern. The toxicity of AgNPs was reported to be dependent on various factors such as particle size, shape and capping agent. Although these factors may play a role in AgNPs toxicity, the results presented herein suggest that surface charge is one of the most important factors that govern the toxicity of AgNPs. In the current study, the toxicity of four AgNPs representing various surface charging scenarios ranging from highly negative to highly positive was investigated. These AgNPs were (1) uncoated H(2)-AgNPs, (2) citrate coated AgNPs (Citrate-AgNPs), (3) polyvinylpyrrolidone coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs), and (4) branched polyethyleneimine coated AgNPs (BPEI-AgNPs). Our results clearly demonstrate that the AgNPs exhibited surface charge-dependent toxicity on the bacillus species investigated. Furthermore, ultrafiltration membranes were utilized to purify the AgNPs suspensions from residual impurities prior to the introduction to the microbes. This step was crucial in determining the true AgNPs toxicity and is either missing or not explicitly mentioned in most of the reported toxicity studies.

Keywords:applications of silver nanoparticles,polyvinylpyrrolidone coated AgNPs,introduction to the microbes.



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