Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 408, Issue 19, pp 5169–5177 | Cite as

Single particle ICP-MS as a tool for determining the stability of silver nanoparticles in aquatic matrixes under various environmental conditions, including treatment by ozonation

  • Lena Telgmann
  • Michael Thanh Khoa Nguyen
  • Li Shen
  • Viviane Yargeau
  • Holger Hintelmann
  • Chris D. Metcalfe
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Single-particle-ICP-MS Advances


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are used in a large number of consumer products due to their antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and these materials may be discharged into municipal wastewater. Wastewater treatment, including advanced oxidation processes (AOPs), may modify the forms of silver in wastewater before they are discharged into surface waters. In addition, little is known about the changes in AgNPs that occur in natural waters under different environmental conditions. In this project, we utilized single particle ICP-MS (spICP-MS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) analytical techniques to evaluate changes in the number and size of AgNPs in laboratory experiments with milliQ water under different environmental conditions, as well as during ozonation. Changes in the number and size of AgNPs determined by spICP-MS were evidence of altered stability of the nanoparticles. Increased rates of dissolution occurred under extremes of pH. Lower temperature decreased the rate of dissolution of AgNP relative to the dissolution in treatments at room temperature. The addition of chloride resulted in the loss of AgNPs from suspension due to agglomeration and precipitation. Ozonation led to a rapid decline in the number and size of AgNPs, as indicated by both spICP-MS and DLS analysis. An increase in the concentration of dissolved silver in the ozone treatments was evidence that changes in particle size were a result of oxidative dissolution of AgNPs to silver ion.

Graphical abstract

Single particle ICP-MS is used to evaluate dissolution of silver nanoparticles under different environmental conditions, including water treatment by ozonation


Single particle ICP-MS Dynamic light scattering Nanoparticles/nanotechnology Silver Ozonation 



This work was supported by a grant to V. Yargeau (PI) and colleagues from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada through the Strategic Grants program. Support for a Postdoctoral Fellowship for L. Telgmann was provided by a fellowship of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All co-authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest affecting the presentation and interpretation of data in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lena Telgmann
    • 1
  • Michael Thanh Khoa Nguyen
    • 2
  • Li Shen
    • 2
  • Viviane Yargeau
    • 2
  • Holger Hintelmann
    • 1
  • Chris D. Metcalfe
    • 1
  1. 1.Water Quality CentreTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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