Nano Silver – Why It is so Hot Now?

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It has been known for centuries that silver has an antiseptic effect. In ancient times, many Greeks used silver vessels for drinking water storage. Koreans have also chosen silver to make their metal chopsticks. Recently, silver has found use in everyday products such as antimicrobial products, consumer products, and electronic products. Nanosize silver can be made with different shapes such as particles, wires, and rods. Due to its enormous surface reactivity, nanosilver has found utility in everyday products that require antibiotic performance, such as food contact materials, textiles and fabrics, appliances, consumer products, children’s toys, infant products, ‘health’ supplements, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Despite the fact that nanosilver effectively kills bacteria and thus becomes biocidal, many scientists are still not certain of its safety to humans. Senjen et al. (2009) of Friends of the Earth claims that nanosilver is an extreme germ killer which presents a growing threat to public health. Housenger (2009) of USEPA requested several actions to control the use of nanosilver in the US including: • require pesticide registration of nanosilver, regardless of antimicrobial claim • classification as restricted use pesticides • determination of a maximum tolerance for nanosilver. Therefore, safety has become a very sensitive and potentially critical issue for companies that make products containing nanosilver. For product stewardship to their customers, suppliers must handle the EHS issues well in term of real risks, perceptual risks, and government regulation (Rejeski, 2009; Sass, 2008). In our Six Sigma based Waste Minimization research programs, we have begun our study on the life cycle assessment of nanosilver starting with the use of process mapping. Our approach has been based on the EHS recommendations from the 5th Korea-US Nano Forum (2008). We plan to have more multidisciplinary and international approaches to the characterization of nanomaterials (and their transformations in relevant biological and environmental media), in addition to systems and life-cycle approaches to nano-safety. Regarding the nanotoxicity evaluation, Yu (2008) from Korea Environment and Merchandise Testing Institute (KEMTI) urged a close collaboration between toxicologists and engineers. In this paper, we will highlight our research findings in the life cycle assessment of nanosilver. TRIZ has been applied to determine whether the nanosilver safety in environment is an old problem for silver, or an entirely new challenge. In any case, whether it is an old or new problem, we must deal with it seriously. As Luoma (2008) stated – “Nanosilver – there is no silver lining”.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 1, Nanotechnology 2010: Advanced Materials, CNTs, Particles, Films and Composites
Published: June 21, 2010
Pages: 391 - 394
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing
Topic: Nanoparticle Synthesis & Applications
ISBN: 978-1-4398-3401-5