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Nano-Silver: Extreme Germ Killer Presents Growing Threat to Public Health

  • Press Release
    New report from Friends of the Earth sheds light on risks from popular products containing nano-silver particles
    Friends of the Earth, June 11, 2009
    Straight to the Source

The report released today can be found at http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/Nano-silverReport_US.pdf.

CONTACT:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, nberning@foe.org

Ian Illuminato, 202-222-0735 (250-478-7135 after June 12), iilluminato@foe.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Friends of the Earth and Health Care Without Harm Europe released a report http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/Nano-silverReport_US.pdf today detailing the growing public health threat posed by nano-silver particles in consumer products.

"What we've learned is alarming," said Friends of the Earth's Ian Illuminato, one of the report's authors. "Major corporations are putting nano-silver into a wide variety of consumer products with virtually no oversight, and there are potentially serious health consequences as a result. The workers who manufacture these products, the families that use them, and the environment are all at risk."

Silver has long been known to be a potent antimicrobial agent. However, its use has exploded in recent years, in medical applications and also in many consumer products, including children's toys, babies' bottles, cosmetics, textiles, cleaning agents, chopping boards, refrigerators and dishwashers.

Much of the silver used in these products today is manufactured at the nano-scale, meaning it is present in extremely tiny particles that behave differently than larger particles and are especially potent. Studies suggest that the widespread use of nano-silver poses serious health and environmental risks and that it could promote anti-bacterial resistance, undermining its efficacy in a medical context.

"Inserting nano-silver into hundreds of new products could harm our bodies and the outdoor environments into which it's released," said Illuminato. "Nano-silver doesn't distinguish between good and bad bacteria-it kills all bacteria with which it interacts, many of which are necessary for our survival and the survival of other living organisms."

"Do we really need to coat cups, bowls and cutting boards, personal care products, children's toys and infant products in nano-silver for 'hygienic' reasons?" asked report co-author Dr. Rye Senjen, Friends of the Earth Australia's nanotechnology expert. "Over-use of this extreme germ killer poses a serious public health risk."

"We are playing with fire, especially at a time when anti-bacterial resistance is an ever increasing medical problem globally," Dr. Senjen said.

The report also warns that nano-silver may leach out of products such as clothing, cosmetics, and washing machines and find its way into water systems and potentially interfere with the treatment of waste water and sewage.

Friends of the Earth is calling for an immediate moratorium on the commercial release of products that contain manufactured nano-silver until nanotechnology-specific regulation is put in place to protect the public, workers and the environment, until all products containing nano-silver are labeled as such, and until the public is involved in decision making about the use of this particle.

The report released today can be found at http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/Nano-silverReport_US.pdf.

A petition Friends of the Earth and allied groups sent to the U.S. EPA calling for regulation of nano-silver can be found here: www.foe.org/healthy-people/nanosilver  .

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Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org ) is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has been at the forefront of high-profile efforts to create a more healthy, just world. One of its current campaigns focuses on combating the spread of nanotechnology without regulation and oversight.

 

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