Call for nano-silver ban in Australia

Health campaigners in Australia are calling for scrict safety checks on the use of nano-sized silver in everyday products, following similar health concerns in the United States over the use of the antimicrobial agent.

Last month following court battles with food safety advocates, the US Environmental Protection Agency agreed to regulate the use of nano-silver in new products.

Unlike other silver-based technologies, nano technology is controversial because of the use of small particles. Nanomaterials are typically less than 100 nanometres, or 100,000 times less than the width of a human hair.

Research shows that nano-silver could promote resistance to antibiotics, be toxic to mammalian liver, stem and brain cells, and, according to the European Commission, harm the environment.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Jeremy Tager has urged Australian authorities to follow the US lead pointing to the rapidly growing number of food and supermarket products with the controversial nanomaterial.

Mr Tager also criticised Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s decision in November to exclude nanomaterials from its review of chemical migration from packaging into food. r

“It is extraordinary that the agency charged with regulating food and protecting human health is allowing these products on the market while admitting they know nothing about their health impacts. It is time they stopped putting business first and put public safety first instead,” he said.

There are at least 400 products with nano-silver in the global market, including health supplements, frying pans and chopping boards, according to the Centre for Food Safety in the US.

Calls for a mandatory register of nanomaterials in Australia and new labelling laws for all products containing nanomaterials have received support from scientists, including Professor Thomas Faunce, a public health expert from the Australian National University.

“Risks of nano-silver as an antibacterial and anti-viral are a concern. Large amounts getting into the ecosystem could be damaging. We’re still to see government regulators control consumer products by mandatory listing, requiring use and disposal in certain ways.”

Biomaster pioneered the use of antimicrobial additives and remains the recognised leader in antimicrobial technology.

MD Paul Morris explains: “We do not use nano-silver because of on-going safety concerns. We don’t see seen any benefits in nano systems – only negative impacts on colour and appearance.”

*Please note that Addmaster was acquired by the Polygiene Group AB in January 2021, so all news articles prior to that date will still be branded as Addmaster.