Benefits Outweigh Potential Risks For Using Silver

May 1, 2012

No one wants to be the person with a sprained ankle that leaves the hospital with MRSA.

While the EPA and several others debate about the safety of using nano silver for humans, animals and the environment, the medical community is already seeing the benefits of using nano silver in hospitals.

For over a year, companies have been manufacturing products for hospitals, from medical devices like catheters to often overlooked germ bearing surfaces like curtains, door knobs and hand rails that are coated with nano silver with the goal of reducing hospital acquired infections, specifically those caused by possibly life-threatening antibiotic resistant bacteria. Although a formal study hasn’t been conducted, anecdotal reports coming in is that these devices are effective.

Despite all the concern about nano silver (no study has found a risk to human health—the focus is mostly on the smallest elements of ecosystems), the general conclusion with regard to hospital acquired infections is that any risks of nano silver are outweighed by the risk of antibiotic resistant infections—MRSA, pneumonia, and increasingly tuberculosis.

Of course, until the full implications of coating everything with nano silver is known, moderation in non-medical situations may be appropriate (washing machines, clothing). One researcher working in India is exploring whether bacteria can become resistant to silver, and has so far found no signs of adaptation.

Another concern is killing off good-bacteria, which play important roles both in the environment and the body. For humans, taking a probiotic or including yogurt with meals can help support natural good bacteria colonies.

In terms of the environment, effects are unknown although it’s a growing area of research. Worst case scenario, there is a fairly cheap and easy way to recover nanoparticles at water treatment facilities!

What do you think about safe and ethical uses of silver? Share in the comments!

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