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Silver Nanoparticles: Toxic or Not

BY: Dilruba Peya | Category: Others | Submitted: 2013-03-07 12:06:28
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Article Summary: "The scientists want to discover if silver nanoparticles, well-known for its bacteria-fighting ability, successfully support against bacteria found in waste water treatment plants. The materials enter sewage systems directly through the washing of cloths and hands after people have handled or managed the nanotechnology-enhanced p.."


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Scientists want to discover if silver nanoparticles, well-known for its bacteria-fighting ability, successfully support against bacteria found in waste water treatment plants. The materials enter sewage systems directly through the washing of cloths and hands after people have handled or managed the nanotechnology-enhanced products. Those products include clothing, bandages, car wax and cosmetics.

Believe it or not, it is a world of nanotechnology. Many daily consumer items now use the emerging science of nanotechnology increasingly, and so, researchers are examining whether nanotechnology poses future problems for human and for the environment. Silver nanomaterials are the fastest growing nanoparticles with wide applications. Presently, little is known about the bad effects of nanosilver to human health, environment and their fate in nature.

Nitrifying bacteria is extremely susceptible to metal pollutants and is a potential environmental health indicator. On the other hand, a small volume of nanosilver are accumulate in our sewage plants. Silver nanoparticles cause greater damage to testicular cells than nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. However, the utilization of both types may have an effect on testicular cells with potential consequences for fertility.

Nanotechnology is further used in building products, medicines and consumer products. The potential threats of using engineered nanosilver needs to be monitored and supervised so that the production industries can produce products that are secure and safe for the environment and humans.

Previous study has shown that nanosilver can cross both the blood-testes barrier and blood-brain barrier in rats and mice, and are absorbed by cells. This research aimed to observe if titanium dioxide and silver nanoparticles had any effect on mice and human testicular cells.

The researchers observed that nanoparticles of silver had a lethal effect on cells, multiplication and suppressing cellular growth and causing death of cell depending on duration and concentrations of exposure. This effect was lesser for nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, although both types of elements did cause specific DNA damage, with potential implication on reproduction with environmental and human health. It seems that silver nanoparticle, and not only the size, may be the limiting factor.

Silver nanoparticles are utilized in consumer products as they can inhibit unwanted odors, kill bacteria. They work through a variety of processes, including producing free radicals of oxygen that can cause DNA damage to membranes of microorganisms and can damage human cells.

The main path by which those particles enter into the environment is as sludge of sewage treatment plants. These nanoparticles are too tiny to be cleaned out, so those and other particles end up in the resultant wastewater treatment "sludge" that is then spread on the agricultural land as a fertilizer.

Silver nanoparticles can have adverse effects on environment if its utilization in clothing rapidly increases. If someone buys one nanosilver treated cloth a year, the concentration of silver in sludge of waste water treatment plant can double in that time. If the sludge is then used as fertilizer, the nanosilver can cause long lasting damage to agricultural land and natural soil.

Silver nanoparticles have an antiseptic and antibacterial effect, and are applied in a variety of user products such as exercise clothing to remove the smell of sweat. As the clothes are washed, nanomaterials are released and come into waste water treatment plants with the waste water. The materials discharge silver ions, which cannot be broken down in nature or at waste water treatment plants. These silver ions are toxic and lethal to many organisms.

Due to the matter that silver in nanoparticle or silver ion form is fungicidal and bactericidal and also stop the reproduction of these organisms, it is currently utilized in a variety of consumer products ranging from sportswear to wound dressing products. As the usefulness of silver ion has been recognized, the argument over the toxicity processes of its different forms to microbes but also to non-target varieties continues.

Until now, little is understood about the adverse environmental effects of nanosilver particles and their toxic effect to aquatic organisms. In addition, the silver nanoparticles have a hazardous effect on environment and human life but a silver salt is more toxic than it. However, more investigation is necessary to reach a clear and reliable understanding of the safety and security of silver-containing elements.

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