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Care What You Wear

EPA May Give First Approval of Nanosilver for Fabrics

A Swiss chemical producer may soon be the first company to receive approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use nanosilver to make clothing smell better, stay cleaner and destroy germs.

However, health scientists say the nanoparticles will wash out with the rinse water and could cause unknown environmental and health problems downstream.

The EPA said that it may issue "conditional approval" to HeiQ Materials AG, a producer of nanosized additives, for the use of a nanosilver pesticide as a new active ingredient in fabrics.

Nanotech Socks Jennie Hills, Getty Images Nanotech socks like these could soon receive tentative EPA approval. The tentative government approval is new, but the development of consumer products containing the nanomaterial is not.

Over the past 11 years, clothing manufacturers, mostly from China, South Korea and other Asian countries, marketed a long list of clothing permeated with antimicrobial nanosilver, as AOL News reported in March.

Bras, panties, men's underwear, jogging outfits, camping clothing and a long list of other consumer products were being touted as "odor-free" or "germ-proof" because of the use of "the almost magical properties of nanosilver," some ads said.