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March 22nd, 2010
Nanosilver: Do We Know The Risks?
In ancient Rome, tipplers lined jars of wine with the precious metal to keep it from going bad. Millenia later we are buying refrigerators and socks, with microscopic silver particles to keep them fresh. The particles are called "nanosilver," and they're seeping into more and more consumer products.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it plans to announce formally, in the federal registry, that it will take a look at its regulatory procedures for nanosilver. The announcement follows calls by health and environmental watchdog groups for a crackdown.
Nanosilver appears on shelves in hundreds of guises (such as Maha Corporation's "shoe sanitizer," pictured, which treats shoes for athelete's foot). The question is whether escaped nanosilver particles pose a threat to human health or the environment, especially the water supply.
Silver trade groups argue that nanosilver used as a microbicide shouldn't be regulated more strictly than colloidal silver, particles of silver in solution a well established ingredient present in including in health supplements and other products.
"Our position is there's this history of use of colloidal silver," said Dr. Rosalind Volpe, executive director of the Silver Nanotechnology Working Group, which advocates for industry.
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