Nanoparticle Release from Nanotechnology-enabled Clothing Products

G. Mainelis, L. Calderon, L. Yang, and K.B. Lee
Rutgers University,
United States

Keywords: Nanoparticles, clothing, silver, particle release, exposure.


The clothing industry has been using nanotechnology for many of years, including the incorporation of manufactured nanoparticles into clothing items to give clothing the desired properties and performance. Due to concerns regarding the health effects due to exposure to manufactured nanoparticles, this research evaluated potential release of nanoparticles from nanotechnology-enabled clothing items during simulated clothing wear. Eighteen nanotechnology-enabled clothing items, including those with incorporated silver nanoparticles, were selected for this study. Clothing wear was simulated using an abrader, where the rotating clothing samples came in contact with felt abrader wheels, and size distribution and concentration of the released particles were measured using a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) and Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (APS). This simulated wear was performed with new items as well as those washed three times. The concentration of select metals in the fabrics, including silver, was determined in both the new and washed items using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The morphology of the released particles was examined using TEM microscopy, while the composition of the released particles was determined using SEM/EDX. We observed the release of nano-sized particles as well as larger agglomerates from all investigated products; however, the concentration and size distribution varied substantially from product to product. The release of particles was substantially also affected by their new/washed status, but the magnitude and direction of effect depended on the product. Silver was detected in several products, and its concentration varied from approximately 1 ppm to ~1.5x10^5 ppm. The presence of silver was confirmed in the released particles as well. This work shows that nanoparticles and their agglomerates could be released from clothing during wear and potentially inhaled. The extent of exposure depends on a particular item and its “wear and tear” status. This study was supported by NSF grant NSF-CBET-1236508.