A United States Court has found that toddlers are at risk from exposure to a nano-silver coating on clothing, carpets and blankets and has thrown out an approval given by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permitting unrestricted use of the coating.

Jeremy Tager, campaigner for the Friends of the Earth Nanotechnology Project, said “the court found that toddlers could absorb this untested nano coating through both the mouth and the skin. When the EPA considered this nano-silver coating, they declared it a pesticide and then proceeded to ignore the risks they had identified.”

“Dozens of unlabelled products on the market contain nano-silver, including toothbrushes, baby bottles and dummies. No one has assessed the combined risks for toddlers or infants of such broad and frequent exposure and at the moment there is no way for parents to avoid exposure.”

“The situation in Australia is even worse than in the US with nano-silver being effectively unregulated.”

Silver, a well-recognised antimicrobial, is highly toxic and kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Nano-silver is an even stronger antimicrobial than silver. Because of its smaller size, nano-silver penetrates organs and tissues in the body that larger forms of silver cannot reach, like the brain, lung, and testes. Australia’s top microbiologists have warned that the widespread use of nano-silver in ‘antibacterial’ and ‘odour-killing’ consumer products will breed more superbugs, leading to more Australian deaths in hospitals.

“Authorities here have so far ignored this expert advice, but now there is a second compelling reason for banning nano-silver in consumer products – it is putting children at risk as well,” said Mr Tager.

“For too long, corporate interests have been rushing to commercialise a host of nano products, resisting regulation and opposing labelling . It’s time for regulators to regain control over an industry that is simply not paying attention to the health, environmental and safety issues associated with nanotechnology,” Mr Tager concluded.

Notes to the editor:

View the court opinion: Natural Resources Defense Council v United States Environmental Protection Agency