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VigilNanos - Silver nanoparticles

Silver nanoparticles

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The (nano)silver particles

By AVICENN Team – Last Added November 2021

What quantities on the market?

Hundreds of tons of silver nanoparticles are produced worldwide every year1Some estimates of nanosilver production:
– In 2013, a projection bet on a world production of nanosilver between 450 and 542 tons for 2014 (The global nanotechnology and nanomaterials industry – Technology Report No. 68, Future Markets, Inc., 2013)
– In 2011, the production of nanosilver was estimated at 20 tons for the United States alone (Estimating production data for five engineered nanomaterials as a basis for exposure assessment, Hendren CH et al., About Sci Technol, 45:2562-2569, 2011)
– In 2008, the world production of nanosilver had been estimated at 500 tons per year (cf. Mueller NC and Nowack B, Exposure modeling of engineered nanoparticles in the environmentEnvironmental Science & Technology, 42(12): 4447-4453, Jun 2008

From 2013 to 2017, less than 10 kg of nanosilver was declared each year as having been produced and/or imported in France as part of the mandatory declaration ; in 2018, for the first time, the reported volume of nanosilver moved into the upper range, including between 10 and 100 kg2SeeThe R-Nano register – The annual declaration of “substances with nanoparticle status” in France, mandatory since 2013,

However, there is much more nanosilver on French soil: this declared "nano-quantity" illustrates the difficulties in understanding the real quantities of nanomaterials present on French soil via the r-nano register and the annual declaration, victim of the “strainer effect”.

What properties?

Silver nanoparticles are used primarily as antibacterial or antifungal in the medical and pharmaceutical sector, in packagings (cardboard, plastic) and plastic films, In cosmetics (deodorants, soaps), in small care equipment (hairbrushes, electric razors, toothbrushes, hair dryers, curling irons, etc.), in the textiles (medical staff gowns, fabrics used in the operating room), on computer and telephone keyboards...

What products?

Many inventories of products containing nanosilver are available online: they list between 200 and 500 products, but are probably far from being exhaustive, given that the labeling obligation is not respected.

The few kilos of nanosilver (less than 10) declared to the R-nano register in 2017 were classified in the following categories3SeeThe R-Nano register – The annual declaration of “substances with nanoparticle status” in France, mandatory since 2013, :

  • vehicles
  • machines, mechanical devices, electrical/electronic items
  • laboratory chemicals
  • metals and alloys
  • biocidal products (e.g. disinfectants, insecticides)
  • use as a laboratory reagent
  • production of metal powders (wet process)
  • formulation [mixing] of preparations and/or reconditioning (except alloys)
  • general manufacturing, e.g. ex. machinery, equipment, vehicles,
  • other transport equipment
  • scientific research and development
  • manufacture of fine chemicals

Silver nanoparticles are present in the food additive E174, silver dye used in foodstuffs (mainly decorations for pastries).

Some additional examples spotted by AVICENN on the net:
  • of  antibacterial zippered mask pouches, sold with the mention "silver nanoparticles" (and silver nano) (spotted in November 2020)
  • the Silverloon filter balls loaded with silver nanoparticles, Eurospapoolnews, May 24, 2018: “AELLO presents its new economical and recyclable filter media for swimming pool sand filters: Silverloon. These filter balls are loaded with silver nanoparticles, providing them with bactericidal properties, in order to limit the development of microbial outbreaks in the swimming pool. »
  • of  silver nanowires for the production of transparent, heated and flexible electrodes, used for anti-icing visors or demisting applications offered in France in July 2018 by Provatic International (subsidiary of the Protex International group) following an industrial transfer with the CEA Liten
  • silver nanoparticles attached to the surface of the textile fiber, to inhibit bacteria and body odor especially in the English jersey of Euro 2004 of the English sportswear brand Umbro4Tweet by Umbro UK, April 2019: “In 2004, Umbro introduced X-STATIC technology in several kits, notably in the England jersey for Euro 2004, a first. Silver nanoparticles are attached to the surface of the textile fiber, which inhibits bacteria and body odor. #OurGame #Umbro”...
  • a mask Air for life mask presented as "anti-pollution" by British manufacturer Air for life (AFL), featuring a filtration system containing nano-silver, promoted as being able to remove "99,9% of all indoor and outdoor impurities such as bacteria, dust, pollen, dust mites, viruses, pet dander, PM2,5, smoke, formaldehyde, benzene, other gaseous pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Marketing “without nanosilver”?

Given the risks associated with silver nanoparticles, more and more manufacturers are using the “no nano-silver” argument as a commercial argument. This is particularly the case of:

Non-approval as a biocide of silver "as a nanomaterial"

In August 2021, the decision not to approve silver as a biocide "as a nanomaterial" has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) for product types 2, 4 and 9.

From a legal point of view, this decision is made due to the absence of a request from an industrialist to obtain an authorization to use nanosilver for biocidal purposes.8Indeed, it happens that manufacturers do not submit an authorization application file (or withdraw it or do not renew it) for a biocide which does not meet the stricter requirements of the new biocides regulations (or for which they consider that the cost will be too high to meet it). – and not because of (proven) health and/or environmental risks of nanosilver.

What risks?

Le nanosilver is being classified at European level.

Depending on the uses, the “risk-benefit” balance will be different. If it can be positive for strictly limited medical applications (serious burns for example), it is negative in domestic refrigerators9See for example The cost-benefit analysis of the use of nanoparticles in refrigerators, ICSI, Cahiers de la sécurité industrielle, February 2011.

Elsewhere on the web

A remark, a question? This sheet produced by AVICENN is intended to be supplemented and updated. Feel free to share your contribution.

The next nano appointments

“Nano and Health” dialogue committee (ANSES, Maisons-Alfort)
Dialogue Committee
  • 14th meeting of the “nano and health” dialogue committee
  • Organizer: ANSES
  • Website :
Nanomaterials, how to identify them more efficiently? (LNE, Paris)
  • Technical Day
  • Organizer: National Metrology and Testing Laboratory (LNE)
  • On the agenda: identification of nanomaterials, recent technological innovations in terms of particle size characterization, areas for progress to be considered 
  • Upcoming program
  • Website :…
NanoSafe conference 2023 (CEA, Grenoble)
  • 8th International Conference on Health Issues for a Responsible Approach to Nanomaterials
  • June 5-9, 2023
  • Organizer: Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA)
  • Website :…  

Sheet initially put online in May 2018

Notes & references

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