Silver Nanoparticles in Consumer Products

Silver Nanoparticles in Consumer Products

Silver ions have been shown to have anti-microbial properties. And so silver has been popping up in all sorts of consumer products, with ions added to everything from tissues to t-shirts, hand sanitizers, socks, children’s toys, lotion, fabric softener, pacifiers — as well as toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Before the advent of antibiotics, silver was essential in fighting infections. Even today, many wound dressings are infused with antimicrobial silver ions.

Ingesting Silver Can Turn Your Skin Blue

Argyria is what happens when a person is exposed to large amounts of silver. It’s not clear if it’s linked to health problems, but the cosmetic consequences can be dramatic: exposure to silver can cause your skin to turn blue!
Paul Karason
Paul Karason took colloidal silver for many years, causing his skin to turn a bluish-gray hue.

He’s even been featured on The Today Show: ‘Blue man’ is still a man of a different color

Modern medicine still isn’t sure exactly how silver gets its anti-bacterial properties, nor what the risks of over-exposure might be. Silver does build up in the body, but it hasn’t been definitively linked to any health problems. (Well, excessive silver can cause your skin to turn blue – see sidebar – but that’s all that’s been proven.)

First, let’s make a few important clarifications, because not all silver is the same.

  • Elemental silver is not essential to the human body, but it has not been shown to be toxic.
  • Silver ions (Ag+) have antibacterial properties.
  • Colloidal silver gained ground in the 90’s as an alternative medicine treatment. Though available at health food stores, the FDA prohibits marketing these products as medically effective. Most (but not all!) of these products contain silver colloids – small particles of silver.
  • Silver nano-particles are smaller than silver colloids – and smaller than bacteria or viruses. Their tiny size offers greater surface area and can release more silver ions, enhancing the potency.

But is potency a good thing or a bad thing?

In fact, silver nanoparticles have gotten so potent that environmentalists have become concerned. Now present in hundreds of products, it’s inevitable that some nano-silver will wash down the drain (where it won’t be removed by sewage systems) and into the ecosystem (where we’re not able to detect it).

Researchers have shown that silver nanoparticle exposure causes mutations in fish (Scientific American). At higher concentrations all fish embryos die; at lower concentrations, they come out grossly mutated.

The really troubling thing is that it’s not clear what effect they have on the human body. While it’s generally accepted that elemental silver doesn’t harm the human body, silver nanoparticles behave differently, and their long-term effects haven’t been studied.

What do you think?

Next week: How is silver nanotechnology being applied to dentistry?

Dental Safety: BPA Exposure and Dental Sealants (video)

Dental Safety: BPA Exposure and Dental Sealants (video)This week Campbell’s Soup Company announced that they are phasing out bisphenol A (BPA) in their canned food linings.

BPA is a chemical that can imitate human estrogen and is thought by some health care providers to be harmful to health.  BPA is commonly used additive in food packaging and dental sealants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also reported that they will make a decision by March 30th on whether to the ban the use of bisphenol A in food and beverage packaging.

Dental composites have revolutionized dentistry, especially cosmetic dentistry. But composite resins and dental sealants also contain BPA.

Warned one dentist, “It’s a dangerous chemical that we are placing in a sensitive area, free to leech out 24 hours a day.”

Another dentist said, “The cumulative release of BPA from composites appears to be minimal from the available research.”

Recently there’s been a lot of negative publicity about bisphenol A being linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes. In light of these recent reports, The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they have dental safety concerns over dental composites.

Click on Play to hear how the dentists responded to the survey —

What are your thoughts on the use of BPA in cosmetic dentistry?

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