A study published June 18, 2014 by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) suggests that nanosilver particles should not be treated different from conventional silver (Mitrano et al. 2014). The researchers from EMPA compared the particle release of different silver-containing textiles. They found textiles treated with conventional silver to release equal or greater amounts of both larger and smaller particles into waste water during washing. Nanosilver-treated articles on the other hand released hardly any nanoparticles. Mitrano and colleagues further found the silver released in to waste water to be largely retained in the waste water treatment tank and argued that silver is relatively non-toxic for humans. The authors from EMPA thus concluded that regulation should not treat nanosilver differently from conventional silver.
Nanosilver is also used as an antimicrobial in food contact materials. It has been observed to induce oxidative stress, genotoxicity and apoptosis in in vitro tests.
EMPA (June 30, 2014). “Nano-coatings release almost no nano-particles: silver in the washing machine.”
Mitrano, D. (2014). “Presence of nanoparticles in wash water from conventional silver and nano-silver textiles.” ACS Nano (published online June 18, 2014).