EPA Urged To Act On Nanosilver | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: May 7, 2008

EPA Urged To Act On Nanosilver

Groups petition agency to regulate some nanotech-containing products as pesticides
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE

The International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) and several other nonprofit consumer, public health, and environmental groups filed a legal petition on May 1 demanding that EPA regulate nanosilver as a pesticide. The groups claim that more than 260 products containing nanosized silver particles are being illegally sold in the U.S.

Nanosilver is showing up in washing machines and other household appliances, clothing, cutlery, food containers, personal care products, and even children's toys, according to the petition. Many of these products, the petition noted, make broad claims such as "eliminates 99% of bacteria" or "kills approximately 650 kinds of harmful germs and viruses."

Nanosilver particles are highly efficient germ killers, and as such they should be classified as pesticides, says George Kimbrell, a staff attorney at CTA. If a product claims to contain nanosilver that imparts antimicrobial properties, then that product must go through EPA's pesticide registration and licensing process, he says. "Making antimicrobial claims without doing that is illegal," he explains.

In March, EPA fined a California-based technology company $208,000 for making claims that its nanosilver-containing computer mouse and keyboards are germ-free without registering them with the agency. But that is the only instance in which EPA has acted on its authority to regulate nanosilver as a pesticide, Kimbrell says.

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