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Health concerns about nanosilver in textiles prompts lawsuit

When many people in Albany think about dangerous products, they are probably not thinking about their clothing or other fabrics. While it is extremely important to think about product safety when making your purchasing decisions, not many people will think the actual fabric of an item of clothing can or will pose much risk. One environmental group, however, has sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that the use of antimicrobial nanosilver in clothing is an extremely dangerous risk.

Silver is a highly toxic metal that can cause serious illness or injury to people and nanosilver presents an even greater risk than silver does. As the name indicates, nanosilver is extremely small. This means that it can enter the bloodstream and enter tissues that larger silver particles would not be able to reach. The environmental group argues that because the lungs, brains and testes of people wearing nanosilver fabric could be damaged by exposure to the toxic metal, the government should have required further testing before approving its use in consumer products.

The EPA made a decision in December that allowed a textile manufacturer to include nanosilver into their materials as a textile preservative in exchange for further information on the safety of the product. The environmental group is concerned, however, that the product has been released before the important safety information has been fully collected and analyzed. According to the group, the EPA and fabric manufacturers are using humans as "guinea pigs" in regards to nanosilver fabrics.

It is unclear exactly which fabrics now contain nanosilver, but consumers should not be concerned that their clothes will cause any illness or injury. Manufacturers have a duty to provide safe products for the public and when they don't, they can be held liable for any injuries that result.

Source: The National Law Journal, "Environmental group sues EPA to block use of nanosilver in textiles," Jenna Greene, Jan. 26, 2012

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