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February 6, 2013

Study Evaluates Antimicrobials, Including Nanosilver, for Textile Applications

Lynn L. Bergeson

Environment International recently posted online an article entitled “Comparative evaluation of antimicrobials for textile applications.” The authors provide an overview of the main compounds currently used — triclosan, silane quaternary ammonium compounds, zinc pyrithione, and silver-based compounds, including nanosilver. The authors evaluated scientific publications, market data, and regulatory documents to consider the potential effects of antimicrobials on the environment and on human health, taking life cycle perspectives into account. The authors summarize the characteristics of each compound according to technical, environmental, and human health criteria. The authors conclude that the application rates of the antimicrobials used are an important parameter, “with treatments requiring lower dosage rates offering clear benefits in terms of less active substance required to achieve the functionality.”  While the authors concluded that “each antimicrobial technology has specific risks and benefits that should be taken into account in evaluating the suitability of different antimicrobial products,” the abstract states: “The results also indicated that nanoscale silver and silver salts that achieve functionality with very low application rates offer clear potential benefits for textile use.” The project was partially funded by HeiQ Materials AG, which obtained the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first conditional registration for nanosilver.