Is there value in your dirty laundry? Scientists mine silver from laundry wastewater.

Silver nanoparticles are known for their antibacterial properties, which is why they have been added to clothing to fight odour-causing bacterial growth. Athletic clothing is a great example of silver being used for this purpose. Over many washes, the silver is dissolved in the laundry water and is eventually released into the environment. Silver is beneficial for killing bacteria in small concentrations, but in larger concentrations it will cause harm to small aquatic species, and in high enough concentrations it will cause harm to us. Scientists were looking to recover silver from wastewater by using ion exchange, however there are other positively charged ions in laundry detergent, which may bind to the resin in preference to the silver. In order to remove and recover silver from laundry wastewater, different recovery methods may need to be looked at that would specifically target the silver ions.

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