Transport of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) in soil.

Dept. of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.
Chemosphere (Impact Factor: 3.14). 04/2012; 88(5):670-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.03.055
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The effect of soil properties on the transport of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) was studied in a set of laboratory column experiments, using different combinations of size fractions of a Mediterranean sandy clay soil. The AgNPs with average size of ~30nm yielded a stable suspension in water with zeta potential of -39mV. Early breakthrough of AgNPs in soil was observed in column transport experiments. AgNPs were found to have high mobility in soil with outlet relative concentrations ranging from 30% to 70%, depending on experimental conditions. AgNP mobility through the column decreased when the fraction of smaller soil aggregates was larger. The early breakthrough pattern was not observed for AgNPs in pure quartz columns nor for bromide tracer in soil columns, suggesting that early breakthrough is related to the nature of AgNP transport in natural soils. Micro-CT and image analysis used to investigate structural features of the soil, suggest that soil aggregate size strongly affects AgNP transport in natural soil. The retention of AgNPs in the soil column was reduced when humic acid was added to the leaching solution, while a lower flow rate (Darcy velocity of 0.17cm/min versus 0.66cm/min) resulted in higher retention of AgNPs in the soil. When soil residual chloride was exchanged by nitrate prior to column experiments, significantly improved mobility of AgNPs was observed in the soil column. These findings point to the importance of AgNP-soil chemical interactions as a retention mechanism, and demonstrate the need to employ natural soils rather than glass beads or quartz in representative experimental investigations.

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