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Impacts of Silver Nanoparticles on the Growth and Composition of Microbial Communities Found in Wastewater

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Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are increasingly being integrated into a wide range of consumer products, such as air filters, washing machines, and textiles, due to their antimicrobial properties [1]. Despite the beneficial applications of AgNPs in consumer products, their release into wastewater treatment plants may negatively impact key microorganisms involved in nutrient removal. Consequently, it is important to characterize the effects of AgNPs in natural and engineered systems and to measure the antimicrobial effect of AgNPs on wastewater microorganisms. Polyvinyl alcohol coated AgNPs have already been linked to decreased nitrifying activity [2] and it is important to determine if AgNPs coated with other materials follow similar trends. It is likely that with repeated exposure to AgNPs, microbial communities could evolve and develop resistance to silver. A long-term effect of silver nanoparticle exposure could be a reduction of the efficacy of AgNP consumer products in a similar fashion as the development of microbial antibiotic resistance [3]. It is therefore critical that the impacts of these materials be ascertained in wastewater treatment systems to prevent long-term negative effects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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