Accuracy, precision, usability, and cost of portable silver test methods for ceramic filter factories
Locally manufactured ceramic water filters are one effective household drinking water treatment technology. During manufacturing, silver nanoparticles or silver nitrate are applied to prevent microbiological growth within the filter and increase bacterial removal efficacy. Currently, there is no recommendation for manufacturers to test silver concentrations of application solutions or filtered water. We identified six commercially available silver test strips, kits, and meters, and evaluated them by: (1) measuring in quintuplicate six samples from 100 to 1,000 mg/L (application range) and six samples from 0.0 to 1.0 mg/L (effluent range) of silver nanoparticles and silver nitrate to determine accuracy and precision; (2) conducting volunteer testing to assess ease-of-use; and (3) comparing costs. We found no method accurately detected silver nanoparticles, and accuracy ranged from 4 to 91% measurement error for silver nitrate samples. Most methods were precise, but only one method could test both application and effluent concentration ranges of silver nitrate. Volunteers considered test strip methods easiest. The cost for 100 tests ranged from 36 to 1,600 USD. We found no currently available method accurately and precisely measured both silver types at reasonable cost and ease-of-use, thus these methods are not recommended to manufacturers. We recommend development of field-appropriate methods that accurately and precisely measure silver nanoparticle and silver nitrate concentrations.