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ICON Releases Research Summary Related To Nanosilver In The Environment

The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), Houston, has released a summary of research conducted recently on the potential environmental impacts of nanosilver, used to provide antimicrobial protection in consumer products including textiles, plastics and other products.

The three published papers covered in the summary include: a study of the release of silver nanoparticles from sock fabrics into water; a study involving exposure modeling of engineered nanoparticles in the environment; and a study covering cumulative aquatic exposure and risk related to silver and how nano-functionalized textiles and plastics contribute to the scenario.

According to the ICON summary, it is estimated that the amount of silver released into wastewater from certain nanosilver-treated products is likely within the handling capabilities of sewage treatment plants. It was also found that the amount of current and estimated future releases of nanosilver comprise only 1 to 10 percent of current sewage treatment capacity for such particles. One study hypothesizes that nanosilver accumulation in sewage sludge could limit sludge use as an agricultural fertilizer. There was lack of agreement among the studies concerning potential risk to aquatic species from the presence of nanosilver in their ecosystems, and there was not enough information available to evaluate risks to terrestrial ecosystems from nanosilver released in the soil or air.

The ICON Backgrounder and abstracts of the papers are available online at http://cohesion.rice.edu/centersandinst/icon/resources.cfm?doc_id=12722.

November 18, 2008