Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Research, Nanomaterials | Tags: Environmental, nanotechnology, testing
The European Commission has published a report in their Science For Environment News Alert, which highlights the concern over the fate of nanoparticulate silver (nano-silver) which is released into the aquatic environment. Nano-silver is used very effectively as a bactericide in many clothing products, particularly socks. They are considered to be anti-microbials, in that they release silver ions which inhibit bacterial and microbial growth.
However, it is this very behaviour which has prompted this concern. The propensity of nano-silver to release ionic silver is damaging to the environment as it is now widely thought that ionic silver is significantly more toxic to the aquatic environment than uncharged nanoparticles of silver.
In order to gain a more robust assessment of the environmental threat from silver, researchers do need to be able to measure levels of both charged ionic silver, and uncharged nano-silver. Measuring total silver will not enable ecotoxicologists to obtain an accurate picture of the ionic silver load to the environment. Differentiating between the two forms is essential, therefore, and we believe that work should be undertaken to achieve this; we do not believe that this task is impossible. Work should commence within LGC on this in the near future.
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