Canada Health Alliance

Knife, Fork … And Nanoparticles?

Gwyneth K. Shaw

Wondering whether your anti-stink workout clothes are sending nanosilver into the environment?

Turns out that you should take a look at other silver ob- jects you might be wearing or using as a potential source for sloughing off ultra-tiny bits, too.

A new study showing that large-scale silver objects can essentially shed nanoparticles is further complicating an already dizzying discussion over the potential hazards of nanotechnology — leaving scientists and regulators staring at big, hard questions.

… Nanosilver has become a hot topic amid the larger discussion, in part because it’s increasingly used as an antimicrobial agent.

The silver industry has argued that the metal—nano-sized or not — has been safely used for many years, in everything from swimming pool disinfectants to wound dressings. The industry has urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is looking at nanosilver as a pesticide, not to regulate the super-small version as a separate material. Environmental and consumer advocates, on the other hand, have pushed for new laws on some nano-related products, including silver, for several years.

The question of whether nanosilver poses a different risk than larger silver particles remains unanswered

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