Download PDF
December 12, 2011

EC Requests SCENIHR for Scientific Opinion on Nanosilver

Lynn L. Bergeson

The European Commission (EC) requested on December 9, 2011, that the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) prepare a scientific opinion on the safety, health, and environmental effects and role in antimicrobial resistance of nanosilver. According to the EC, while recent review papers suggest that nanosilver may not be hazardous to humans, data are insufficient to carry out a full risk assessment. The EC states that indirect adverse effects on human health may occur via an increasing resistance of micro-organisms against silver, including nanosilver and silver-based compounds, which could limit the usefulness of nanosilver in medical devices and other medical applications. Furthermore, the EC states, silver can be present in different forms, and it is not clear how these different forms of silver influence its antimicrobial properties, a possible increase of antimicrobial resistance, and the healing process. The EC notes that recent reviews and publications proposed to use a combination of nanosilver and the “usual antibiotics” for the treatment of specific infectious diseases caused by resistant bacteria. The EC requests SCENIHR “to assess whether the use of nanosilver, in particular in medical care and in consumer products could result in additional risks compared to more traditional uses of silver,” and “to assess whether the use of nanosilver to control bacterial growth could result in resistance of micro-organisms.” The deadline for SCENIHR’s opinion is early 2013.