Environmental Science and Technology, 49(14):8441-8450, 2015. Paper abstract bibtex
© 2015 American Chemical Society.Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are currently the most commonly used nanoparticles in consumer products, yet their environmental fate in natural waters is poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated the persistence, transformations and distribution of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and citrate (CT) coated AgNPs in boreal lake mesocosms dosed either with a 6-week chronic regimen or a one-time pulse treatment at environmentally relevant dosing levels. In the chronic treatments, total Ag (TAg) concentrations reached ∼40% of target concentrations by the end of the experiment, and in the pulsed mesocosms, TAg dissipated slowly, with a half-life of ∼20 days. Sediments and periphyton on the mesocosm walls were an important sink for Ag. We found little effect of AgNP loading and surface coating on the persistence of TAg. There were also no differences between treatments in the degree of agglomeration of AgNPs, as indicated by the accumulation and distribution of Ag in the particulate and colloidal fractions. The low ionic strength and relatively high dissolved organic carbon concentrations in the lake water likely contributed to the relative stability of AgNP in the water column. The low concentrations of dissolved Ag (<1 μg L-1) in the size fraction <3 kDaA reflect the importance of natural ligands in controlling the concentrations of Ag released by dissolution of AgNPs. Overall, these data indicate that AgNPs are relatively stable in the tested lake environment and appear to result in quantities of highly toxic ionic Ag+ that are below our limit of detection.