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Environment

Court reverses U.S. approval of nanosilver pesticide

by Britt E. Erickson
June 5, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 23

In a win for environmental and public health groups, a federal appeals court revoked EPA’s approval of an antimicrobial product containing nanosilver. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on May 30 that EPA failed to show that its approval of the product, called NSPW-L30SS or Nanosilva, was in the public’s interest. The agency approved Nanosilva for use in textiles and plastics in May 2015, under the condition that, within four years, the manufacturer would generate safety data to determine the product’s effects on human health and the environment. EPA claimed that the nanosilver product had a lower application rate and a lower mobility rate compared with conventional silver-based antimicrobials. The product thus had the potential to reduce the amount of silver released into the environment, EPA said. A coalition of environmental groups challenged EPA’s decision, claiming the agency failed to assess the risks of Nanosilva to humans and the environment. “Nanosilver is known to be highly toxic to aquatic life and may be hazardous to people,” says Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the environmental groups that challenged the approval of Nanosilva. “EPA rushed to judgment by approving it, leaving consumers to be guinea pigs,” she says. “Now the agency must take a closer look at its potential to cause harm.”

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