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Release and transformation of ZnO nanoparticles used in outdoor surface coatings for UV protection

Clar, Justin G., Platten, William E., Baumann, Eric, Remsen, Andrew, Harmon, Steve M., Rodgers, Kim, Thomas, Treye A., Matheson, Joanna, Luxton, Todd P.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.670 pp. 78-86
X-ray absorption spectroscopy, coatings, electron microscopy, filtration, lumber, nanoparticles, paints, product safety, sealants, sunscreens, weathering, zinc, zinc oxide
A major area of growth for “nano-enabled” products has been the addition of nanoparticles (NPs) to surface coatings including paints, stains and sealants. Zinc oxide (ZnO) NPs, long used in sunscreens and sunblocks, have found growing use in surface coating formulations to increase their UV resistance, especially on outdoor products. In this work, ZnO NPs, marketed as an additive to paints and stains, were dispersed in Milli-Q water and a commercial deck stain. Resulting solutions were applied to either Micronized-Copper Azole (MCA) pressure treated lumber or a commercially available composite decking. A portion of coated surfaces were placed outdoors to undergo environmental weathering, while the remaining samples were stored indoors to function as experimental controls. Weathered and control treatments were subsequently sampled periodically for 6 months using a simulated dermal contact method developed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The release of ZnO NPs, and their associated degradation products, was determined through sequential filtration, atomic spectroscopy, X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure Spectroscopy, and electron microscopy. Across all treatments, the percentage of applied zinc released through simulated dermal contact did not exceed 4%, although transformation and release of zinc was highly dependent on dispersion medium. For MCA samples weathered outdoors, water-based applications released significantly more zinc than stain-based, 180 ± 28, and 65 ± 9 mg/m2 respectively. Moreover, results indicate that the number of contact events drives material release.