Rising Concerns about Impact of Nanosilver on Human and Environmental Health to Restrain its Large Scale Adoption

Nanotechnology has widely been marketed as the most promising field for generating new applications in industries ranging from personal care products, cosmetics, home care products, medicines, paints and coatings, to water disinfection. Of the several nanoproducts witnessing robust demand across several applications, the most prominent nanoproduct is the silver nanoparticle – commonly referred to as nanosilver. Silver, which has been used as an antibiotic since ancient times, exhibits remarkably unusual physical and biological, and chemical properties at nanoscale. Nanosilver is well known for its antibacterial and superior physical properties and has seen huge rise in production and use in commercial products in the past few years.


Nanosilver Market to Reach US$ to US$1.8 billion by 2020

Nanosilver is one of the only few nanoproducts that are currently used for medical purposes. Due to the strong antibacterial properties, nanosilver is used as coatings on various textiles as well as on certain medical implants. Nanosilver is also used in the treatment of burns and wounds or as a contraceptive. The use of nanosilver is becoming widespread in medicines and related applications. The growth prospects of this nanoparticle are highly positive, according to a recent market research report published by Transparency Market Research. The report states that the market will expand at a 15.4% CAGR during the period between 2014 and 2020, rising from a valuation of US$0.6 bn in 2013 to US$1.8 bn by 2020.

The report mentions that this growth will result from the widespread use of nanosilver across industries such as healthcare, electrical and electronics, textiles, food and beverages, and water treatment. Nevertheless, the market faces the challenge of overcoming the huge scrutiny surrounding the material’s potential of being released into the environment and adversely effecting human and environmental health.

Scientists Feel the Need for Raising Environmental and Toxicological Issues Related to Rising Use of Nanosilver

As the use of nanosilver is becoming widespread across a number of applications and commercial products, there are several possibilities of release of the substance in the environment. This possibility, coupled with the potential toxicity of the material, and its effects on the health of living creatures and the environment have raised significant concerns regarding the large scale use of nanosilver on a global front.

It has been observed in the past years that, in contrast to the vast attention paid to the development of newer applications of nanosilver, only a few studies have surfaced that provide insights into the interaction of the material with the environment and the human body. The impacts of nanosilver on the human body owing to its cellular uptake, cytotoxicity, interaction with cellular proteins, binding to cellular DNA are only being slowly recognized. Several research studies aimed at understanding the major positive and negative risks of nanosilver are being undertaken across the globe.

So as to completely examine the transport and effects of nanosilver in the environment, an urgent need for proper methods for separation, speciation, and preconcentration of nanosilver particles has been identified. There is also the need for reliable analytical tools for the proper detection and characterization of nanosilver in complicated environmental samples. To understand the environmental transformation of the material, the behavior of nanosilver particles need to be thoroughly examined in relevant environmental conditions. Additionally, in vivo and in vitro toxicity studies also need to be carried out to properly understand the exact the toxicity mechanism and effect of the material on human health.

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