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Open Access Nano Express

The role of particle size of particulate nano-zinc oxide wood preservatives on termite mortality and leach resistance

Carol A Clausen1*, S Nami Kartal2, Rachel A Arango1 and Frederick Green1

Author Affiliations

1 U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI 53726, USA

2 Department of Forest Biology and Wood Protection Technology, Forestry Faculty, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:427  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-427

Published: 15 June 2011

Abstract

Historically most residential wood preservatives were aqueous soluble metal formulations, but recently metals ground to submicron size and dispersed in water to give particulate formulations have gained importance. In this study, the specific role nano-zinc oxide (ZnO) particle size and leach resistance plays in termite mortality resulting from exposure to particulate ZnO-treated wood was investigated. Southern yellow pine (SYP) sapwood impregnated with three concentrations of two particle sizes (30 and 70 nm) of ZnO were compared to wood treated with soluble zinc sulphate (ZnSO4) preservative for leach resistance and termite resistance. Less than four percent leached from the particulate nano-ZnO-treated specimens, while 13 to 25% of the zinc sulphate leached from the soluble treated wood. Nano-ZnO was essentially non-leachable from wood treated with 5% formulation for the 30-nm particle size. In a no-choice laboratory test, eastern subterranean termites (Reticulitermes flavipes) consumed less than 10% of the leached nano-ZnO-treated wood with 93 to 100% mortality in all treatment concentrations. In contrast, termites consumed 10 to 12% of the leached ZnSO4-treated wood, but with lower mortality: 29% in the 1% treatment group and less than 10% (5 and 8%, respectively) in the group of wood blocks treated with 2.5 and 5.0% ZnSO4. We conclude that termites were repelled from consuming wood treated with nano-ZnO, but when consumed it was more toxic to eastern subterranean termites than wood treated with the soluble metal oxide formulation. There were no differences in leaching or termite mortality between the two particle sizes of nano-ZnO.