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Public Health (16-06-2014)

Final Opinion on Nanosilver: safety, health and environmental effects and role in antimicrobial resistance

Today, the European Commission and its non-food Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, SCENIHR, published the final opinion on "Nanosilver: safety, health and environmental effects and role in antimicrobial resistance".

The aim of this opinion is to assess whether the use of nanosilver, in particular in medical care and in consumer products, could result in additional risks compared to more traditional uses of silver and whether the use of nanosilver to control bacterial growth could result in resistance of micro-organisms.

SCENIHR concludes that the widespread (and increasing) use of silver containing products implicates that both consumers and the environment are exposed to new sources of silver. Human exposure is direct (food, hand-to-mouth contact, skin) and may be life long; while in the environment 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. Therefore, additional effects caused by widespread and long term use of silver nanoparticles cannot be ruled out.

Regarding the hazard associated with the dissemination of the resistance mechanism following the use of silver nanoparticles, more data are needed to better understand bacterial response to ionic silver and silver nanoparticles exposure.