Are sliver nanoparticles good or bad for you? We had round up seven facts about silver nanoparticles that may surprise you.
- Silver nanoparticles are released from silverware Drink water from a silver jug or eat with a silver spoon and you are drinking and eating silver nanoparticles. As silverware has been around since Roman times we’ve been doing this for a couple of millennia now and of course if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth you have probably been doing it more than most.
- People have been intentionally dosing themselves with silver nanoparticles for over a hundred years. Colloidal silver suspensions of silver nanoparticles in a liquid – were popular before modern antibiotics came along. Their use has become widespread again in recent years as a cure for well if you read the claims almost anything apparently. There is no clear evidence that drinking colloidal silver is good for you, but evidence never stopped people from self medicating before.
- Silver nanoparticles are pretty good at killing microbes but it’s the silver ions that they slowly release that do most of the damage. This means you don’t necessarily need nanoparticles make products that kill bugs using silver for instance, the Michigan company Crypton makes commercial fabrics used everywhere from Hyatt Hotels to McDonald’s that use silver ions to inhibit bacterial growth and products using X-Static silver technology are widely used by athletes, the military, medics, and others. Both companies use silver as an antibacterial agent but as far as can be told neither company uses nanoparticles.
- It’s hard for pathogens to develop resistance to silver nanoparticles because they interfere with microbes in multiple different ways. However, indiscriminate use of silver as an antibacterial agent could still increase the chances a resistance developing which isn’t great news if you’re relying on it to protect particularly vulnerable patients.
- If you’re exposed to enough silver it’ll turn your skin blue, a condition called on Agryria. This is cosmetically interesting but not fatal In fact it’s thought that royal were originally called Blue Bloods because you guessed it those silver spoons turned their lips delicate shade royal blue.
- Silver nanoparticles aren’t likely to be much more dangerous than other forms of silver in the human body as it’s the ions that cause the most damage. Although it’s still possible that research may throw up some surprises nanoparticles for instance might find it easier to get to sensitive places like inside cells before dissolving and releasing their payload of silver ions and we may still find that the nanoparticles trigger the body’s immune system in ways that ions do not. That said a couple of millennia of imbibing silver nanoparticles hasn’t thrown up any obvious risk red flags yet.
- In contrast silver is bad news for the environment. We learned this with environmental contamination from the photographic film industry. Silver nanoparticles were at least as harmful as the same amount of silver in any other form – possibly more so if the nanoparticles gets places other forms of silver cannot. This has got some people wondering whether putting silver everything from socks and kids toys to bed sheets and carpets is a bad idea.