Nanoparticles are very tiny particles that are being made into materials. You might have seen them on the news or heard someone talk about using them to build an elevator to the moon (they’re very very strong for their size). To get an idea of how small they are, imagine one person in a room of a billion other people; that’s the size of a nanoparticle (1o^-9!) By working at such a small scale, scientists can accomplish things that would otherwise be impossible at larger levels, like delivering drugs directly to cells, or yes, keeping your socks smelling nice.
Nanosilver is a nanomaterial that has antimicrobial properties- that means it stops bacteria from growing. By putting it in socks, we can protect against smelly feet! But what does that means for water? When you wash those socks, some of that nanosilver escapes out into the wash water and on into the wastewater treatment system. What happens to it now?
The short answer is, we don’t know! These types of materials are so new, that this is the first time we’re seeing something like this. But, we’re working on it. Research suggests that these nanoparticles sorb to the other solids in the wastewater treatment system, so these are the parts of the system we should focus on. It is important to understand where these particles go, so we can treat them in the future.
This information came from a seminar given by the US EPA- you can find it here:
There is a seminar almost every week about a new topic in the environment-check them out!
“Long hair minimizes the need for barbers; socks can be done without; one leather jacket solves the coat problem for many years; suspenders are superfluous.”- Albert Einstein.