Have you ever wondered what makes your socks antibacterial? Most likely the fabric has been treated with nano sized particles of silver. Silver has an amazing ability to kill bacteria. When it oxidizes, it releases ions that kill bacteria and yeast. Technology has enabled it to be produced in nano size to be embedded in everything from yoga mats to sunscreen. According to the Chicago Tribune, “A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a human hair is about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide.”http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-16/health/ct-nanosilver-met-20140216_1_consumer-products-other-antibiotic-drugs-germs
Overuse could lead to ineffectiveness
Nanosilver has been praised as a “breakthrough germ killing agent”.http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/antibacterials/nanosilver/health-effects In these times of antibiotic resistance, we need all the tools we can get to fight microbes. One concern with the dominance of nanosilver use in common consumer goods is that just like antibiotics, overuse could lead to its ineffectiveness.
The Chicago Tribune explains:
“Some humans are quite frightened of bacteria, and the tendency to overuse silver is likely,” said Samuel Luoma, an emeritus researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey and the author of “Silver Nanotechnologies and the Environment,” a report published by the Pew Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
“What concerns me is the explosion of products which we don’t know are effective and that are not necessary,” Luoma said. “It’s important to prove it’s worth taking the risk before we put it in the environment.”http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-16/health/ct-nanosilver-met-20140216_1_consumer-products-other-antibiotic-drugs-germs
Nanosilver in our cells
One of the nanosilver dangers is the ability of these tiny particles to enter into our blood stream and cells. The common methods of entry are:
- skin absorption
As we previously reported, nanosilver has entered into our food system from food packaging and pesticide use.
“THE PENETRATION OF SILVER NANOPARTICLES IS DANGEROUS TO CONSUMERS BECA– USE THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO RELOCATE IN THE HUMAN BODY AFTER DIGESTION,” LIN SAID. “THEREFORE, SMALLER NANOPARTICLES MAY BE MORE HARMFUL TO CONSUMERS THAN LARGER COUNTERPARTS.”
WHEN INGESTED, NANOPARTICLES PASS INTO THE BLOOD AND LYMPH SYSTEM, CIRCULATE THROUGH THE BODY AND REACH POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE SITES SUCH AS THE SPLEEN, BRAIN, LIVER AND HEART.http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2013/0822-toxic-nanoparticles-might-be-entering-human-food-supply-mu-study-finds/
Nanosilver dangers for babies and toddlers
We don’t know yet what nanosilver dangers will happen to our bodies, but of particular concern, as with any toxin, is the effect on the very young. Think of a teething baby or toddler….they often chew on their clothing, socks and blankets. What if those fabrics were embedded with nanosilver?
The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) raised exactly this question in regards to US EPA approval of a nanosilver antimicrobial fabric manufactured by HeiQ. Environtal Health Perspectives reports:
NRDC lawyer Catherine Rahm, however, begged to differ with the agency’s methods. In the January hearing, she argued that the agency record shows infants are more likely than any other subset of children to chew on fabrics that could contain the pesticide, and that if the agency were to recalculate its risk assessment based on the body weight of a 1-year-old, nanosilver concentrations in HeiQ’s product could result in potentially harmful exposures.http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a220/
Due to their smaller size, the effects of ingestion and absorption of nanosilver particles for young children is greater than their parents. We don’t even understand yet what the possible nanosilver dangers are for adults let alone babies and toddlers.
The EPA does require all products containing nanosilver be registered, yet manufacturers are allowed to put these products on the market before safety studies are completed. furthermore, products do not need to be labeled as containing nanosilver, so consumers are left in the dark.http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-16/health/ct-nanosilver-met-20140216_1_consumer-products-other-antibiotic-drugs-germs
Researchers have found that when exposed to high levels of nanosilver, laboratory mice experienced damaged DNA.https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/nanosilver-naughty-or-nice
Nanosilver and the environment
Nanosilver is toxic to animal life. It can leach out of products when they are washed affecting aquatic life. It’s not just your clothing that may be treated with nanosilver, but the inside of your washing machine may be too.
Another possible source of environmental contamination is from landfills. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-16/health/ct-nanosilver-met-20140216_1_consumer-products-other-antibiotic-drugs-germs
Initially, the EPA has allowed pesticides containing nanosilver to enter into the market based on the known toxicity of silver not considering the unique properties of nano size particles. A study conducted at the University of Missouri found that pears absorbed silver nanoparticles:
First, the scientists immersed the pears in a silver nanoparticle solution similar to pesticide application. The pears were then washed and rinsed repeatedly. Results showed that four days after the treatment and rinsing, silver nanoparticles were still attached to the skin, and the smaller particles were able to penetrate the skin and reach the pear pulp.http://ecochildsplay.com/2013/08/25/breaking-news-toxic-silver-nanoparticles-may-be-entering-our-food-supply/
There is evidence that nanosilver can actually “improve bacterial survival rates” in the environment, yet there is also concern that when nanosilver enters sewage and septic systems it may kill the beneficial bacteria needed to break down the waste. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a220/
The use of nanosilver is widespread: baby bottles, scissors, toys, stuffed animals, keyboards, wheelchairs, shoes, bandages, door handles, athletic clothing, etc. There is no doubt that there are benefits to nanosilver use; however, moderation is warranted. As with any technology, we don’t yet know what the cumulative effect will be on our bodies and the environment. The best advice is to seek our products for your young children that are free of nanosilver dangers.
Photo credit: floyduk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: ishane via Foter.com / CC BY
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