WASHINGTON (January 26, 2012) –- The Natural Resources Defense Council today filed a lawsuit in federal court to limit public exposure to the antimicrobial nanosilver used in clothing, baby blankets, and many other textiles.
The lawsuit, filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in San Francisco, seeks to block the Environmental Protection Agency from allowing nanosilver on the market without the legally-required data about its suspected harmful effects on humans and wildlife. Starting in December 2011, EPA allowed the company HeiQ Materials to sell nanosilver used in fabrics for the next four years as the company generates the required data on toxicity to human health and aquatic organisms.
“EPA gave this company a four-year free pass to sell an inadequately tested product,” said Mae Wu, program attorney in NRDC’s health program. “EPA’s approval of nanosilver is just the most recent example in a long line of decisions that treats humans and our environment as guinea pigs for these untested pesticides.”
Silver, a well-recognized antimicrobial, is highly toxic and kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Nanosilver is engineered from silver and marketed as an even stronger antimicrobial than silver. Its use in fabrics, food storage containers, hair dryers and other products continues to grow, despite potential dangerous health effects.
“Because of its incredibly small size, nanosilver penetrates organs and tissues in the body that larger forms of silver cannot reach, like the brain, lung, and testes,” said Dr. Jennifer Sass, senior scientist in NRDC’s health program. “For a pesticide that has some potentially devastating effects when released into the environment, and potentially damaging effects when absorbed by humans, EPA should have done a better job in protecting our health and the environment.”
For more information about EPA and nanosilver, read Mae Wu’s blog post here.
Dr. Sass has posted about the case here.