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NRDC says no to nanosilver

March 1st, 2012 / By: / Advanced Textiles, Industry News

Silver is widely used as an antimicrobial in textiles, but a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aims to halt antimicrobial nanosilver used in clothing, bedding and furnishings. In December 2011, the EPA decided to allow HeiQ Materials to use nanosilver in fabrics for four years while the company collects data on toxicity to human health and aquatic organisms. NRDC claims this decision makes people and the environment “guinea pigs for these untested pesticides,” according to NRDC health program attorney Mae Wu. Very small nanoparticles, which have a huge surface-area-to-volume ratio, react effectively against microbes. They’re also tiny enough to penetrate human cell membranes, and that is where the NRDC draws a line. “Nanosilver penetrates organs and tissues in the body that larger forms of silver cannot reach, like the brain, lung and testes,” says Dr. Jennifer Sass, senior scientist in the NRDC’s health program. Nanosilver has “potentially devastating effects when released into the environment and potentially damaging effects when absorbed by humans.”

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