Nanotechnology and Nanosilver: What are the Concerns?
Silver has long been known for its ability to disrupt the growth of microbes. In the last decade alone, the use of nanosilver as an antibacterial agent has expanded dramatically with applications in yoga mats, cutting boards and a range of other products.
Despite being able to effectively fight microbial growth, studies have shown that nanosilver products have a tendency to leach, dispersing harmful nanoparticles into the environment and posing a potential risk to human health.
Friends of the Earth International, a global network representing more than two million activists in 73 different countries, produced a series of reports around nanotechnology which suggest that nanosilver has the potential to be seriously harmful to our health if used too commonly. Notably, they suggest that there has been a tenfold increase in unregulated, unlabeled “nanofood” on the American market since 2008, where ag-vet chemicals are disguising their use of nanoparticles by calling them something else.
In addition to the potential impact on human health, many are concerned about nanosilver exposure within the environment. According to Samuel Luoma, PhD at the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of California, nearly one-third of nanosilver products on the market in 2007 had the potential to disperse silver nanoparticles into the environment. Nearly ten years on, and nanosilver can still make its way into the environment as the particles move from one environmental compartment to another, i.e. from water to sediment, soil to groundwater, water to microorganisms, fish, insects or mammals. In short, it’s possible for nanoparticles to partake in environmental chemical and biological reactions, where the implications are still unclear.
Microban® Silver Antimicrobial Technology: Why is it Safer?
Safety and regulation is of the utmost importance to Microban - so much so that we choose not to use antimicrobial nanotechnology or nanosilver. Unlike nanotechnologies, Microban® silver antimicrobial additives are bound into solid products during manufacture. This means the potential for harmful leaching is negligible. Our silver antimicrobial technologies are also registered for application-appropriate use with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, they are notified with the EU Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), with full submission of the dossiers that support safety aspects such as toxicological and eco-toxicological properties of the active ingredient.
Microban's team of experienced antimicrobial additive scientists use a wide variety of technologies to provide customized antimicrobial solutions. If we determine that silver is the best antimicrobial agent to integrate into your product, we will undertake extensive, independent laboratory testing to ensure its safety across a wide range of product types.