Silver – Exposure

Special epidemiological studies on silver nanoparticles are not available so far. However, analysis of various consumer products show a possible release of nano silver from the products, depending on the application and on the designed use of silver nanoparticles in the final product.


The precious metal silver occurs naturally in the earth's crust and is present in small amounts in various environmental compartments. In the past, water bodies carried high loads of silver due to waste e.g. from the photographic industry. With the advent of digital photography, however, silver concentrations in water systems have declined drastically. Currently, it is a challenge to nanomaterials in environmental matrices. Furthermore, the natural background of silver complicates the measurement of silver nanoparticles.

Using in vitro studies, the responses of different cell types after exposure or uptake of silver nanoparticles in the cell can be studied in detail. Silver nanoparticles are able to release silver ions outside and/or inside a cell leading to the generation of oxidative stress, dose-dependent reduced cell division or ultimately to cell death.

Rodent studies show that silver nanoparticles administered in low doses cause no adverse health effects, although silver could be detected in the organs regardless of the route of exposure. Likewise, the first studies on volunteers with commercially available nano silver products displayed no adverse health effects.


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