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EC SCENIHR publishes preliminary Opinion on Health Effects of Nanosilver

The European Commission’s (EC) Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly-Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has released a draft of its opinion on Nanosilver: safety, health and environmental effects and role in antimicrobial resistance. The Committee states that ‘the increasing use of nanosilver in several, significantly different, consumer products will most probably result in lifelong human exposure via various routes’; whilst ‘no clear adverse health effects’ have been associated ‘with silver exposure in general’, this is because ‘no information can be found on long-term (low) exposure’. It is likewise ‘unclear how populations of bacteria […] will change’ due to this constant low-level exposure.

SCENIHR notes that silver nanoparticles ‘may be a particularly effective delivery system for silver to organisms in soil, water and sediment and may act as sources of ionic silver over extended periods of time’; ionic silver is the main cause for human and environmental effects, SCENIHR states, but ‘in the environment silver is effectively detoxified when reduced sulfur is present’ and ‘large fractions of the silver reaching the environment will precipitate as silver sulfide’; however there is little toxicity data for this material.

This opinion is preliminary, and the Committee has opened it up to public consultations. Responses are due by 2 February 2014. NIA has submitted a reply to this consultation.

In 2012 SCENIHR was asked by the EC to provide opinions on four different questions related to nanosilver. Before publishing this response, SCENIHR made a call for information, to which NIA responded on behalf of its Members.


Follow this link to read the complete version of SCENIHR’s preliminary opinion, and this link to read NIA’s reply on the subject.

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