Optimisation of clothes and textiles

The antimicrobial effect of nano silver has been successfully used in textiles as well. Applications [1] ,[2]include

  • Professional clothing (hospital & nursing, food processing),
  • Sports clothing and underwear and
  • Technical textiles (ventilation systems, filtration).[3]

The EU biocide directive applicable from September 2013 onwards requires that nano silver (when it is used as a biocide) has to be approved for textiles and declared on the products.[4]

Different procedures are possible to connect the nano silver particles with fibres. On the one hand, nano silver can be mixed in a polymer (master batch) before being spun into fibres. This is applied, e.g., in polyester and cellulose acetate fibres, leading to a particularly firm integration into the fibre. The antibacterial effect will then last for a particularly long time. Alternatively, nano silver can be applied on the fibre surface as a finish.[5] Here, the adhesion strength, and thus the effective duration, may differ widely. Weakly bound particles come loose after just a few washes and will reach the sewage plant. Considering this, a nano silver-containing conditioner that only loosely applies the particles to the laundry at a low ratio appears hardly sensible in this respect.[6]

The antimicrobial effect is used in all applications. It is based on the release of silver ions (Ag+). Bacteria are killed by Ag+-ions. Much lower effective substance concentrations than for (metal) organic biocides are needed here. [1] This prevents not only the transfer and spread of germs that would make people sick, but also keeps sweaty smells from arising. After all, sweat as such is near-odourless. The typical smell is produced by bacteria that naturally live on our skin and metabolise sweat components. [7] The healthy settlement of skin by a bacteria flora is not impaired by nano silver-containing clothing.[8]

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Examination of textiles with an electron microscope:

Effects on the environment

The introduction of washed-out silver nano particles into the sewage system was examined scientifically. [1] It turns out that nanosilver will not remain in its metal form for a long time even on its way to the sewage plant, but that it will quickly be metabolised into a silver sulphide salt. This is hardly soluble and biologically virtually ineffective. The bacteria required for sewage treatment are not harmed. 95 % of the nanoparticles are thus kept back in the sewage sludge.

Use of sewage sludge for agricultural fertilisation may damage microorganisms in the field, so that monitoring is recommended in this respect. [2][3]