Or is it only toxic to fathead environmentalists? We'll tell you the story. You decide for yourself...
In spite of being soundly trounced last year when they attempted to force the EPA to regulate products containing silver nanoparticles (including colloidal silver)...
...those looney anti-silver environmentalists are back again this year with a new junk science study they hope will tip the scales in their favor and give the EPA the ammo needed to regulate silver as a “toxic environmental pesticide.”
So you can put this story in your “Here they go again” file.
Once more the radical environmentalist are claiming to have demonstrated that silver is “toxic” to wildlife. And once more we can see the incredible contortions these guys are willing to put themselves through in order to falsely indict silver as an “environmental toxin.”
The Usual Suspects
In this case, a new study conducted by environmental researchers at Purdue University is purported to demonstrate that silver is toxic to fathead minnows and their embryos.
Yes, you read that right: Fathead minnows.
And the usual environmentalist suspects are latching onto the study as “proof” that, for the protection of the environment and of all mankind, products containing silver nanoparticles desperately – yes, desperately -- need to be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
After all, the use of silver nanoparticles in a tremendous variety of commercial products is gaining widespread popularity and acceptance among the general public because of silver’s long-known antimicrobial properties.
And the regulators and their environmentalist lackeys seem to be dead set against allowing that to happen.
The Regulatory Morass
As most readers of this blog are aware, the EPA has been trying to get silver nanoparticles into their regulatory gun sights ever since 2008.
That’s when several radical environmental groups who had been taking huge sums of money from drug company-related foundations petitioned the agency to begin regulating all silver nanoparticle products as “unapproved pesticides.”
They even demanded that all such products be pulled from the market until they could be proven to be “safe for the environment.”
This regulatory grab included the top four brands of colloidal silver.
The environmentalists even put forward the specious argument that since tiny silver particles are toxic to bacteria, their release into the environment could harm “environmentally sensitive microorganisms” in the food chain, thus disrupting the balance of nature and sending the ecology into a tailspin from which it might never recover.
Of course, that argument made them laughingstocks, considering the fact that millions of tons of trace silver exists in nature, and has since the beginning of time – including an estimated two million tons of trace silver in the oceans of the world alone…all without causing even the slightest semblance of an environmental catastrophe.
In fact, in spite of the millions of tons of supposedly “toxic” trace silver contained in the world’s oceans, the sea is literally teeming with wildlife, including uncountable trillions of microscopic living creatures ranging from tiny protozoa and other single-celled microorganisms all the way up the food chain to minnows, shrimp, sardines, larger fish, and even mammals such as porpoises and whales.
In an older blog post, here, I explain why such abundant wildlife can safely co-exist and even thrive with such high levels of trace silver (scroll down to the subhead “Why the Environmentalists Are So Fearful of Silver Nano-Particles”).
Indeed, considering the ubiquitous nature of silver in the global environment, and the innumerable forms of wildlife existing in tandem with it, the case could easily be made that silver, far from being an “environmental toxin” is actually a tremendous benefit to the ecology!
In light of these facts, the EPA and their radical environmentalist cohorts were met with a barrage of criticism and outrage from savvy consumers and industry officials alike who recognized the move to regulate nanosilver as a heavy-handed ploy to take silver-based products off the market.
This of course is a long-desired goal of pharmaceutical industry insiders who see the commercial use of safe, natural antimicrobial silver as a direct threat to their multi-billion dollar annual market in prescription antibiotic drugs.
Message to Fathead Minnows:
“Don’t Use Silver Nanoparticles!”
Of course, the radical environmentalists don’t give up easily.
Even though they lost the battle to have silver-based products regulated into oblivion by the EPA in 2008 and 2009, this year they’ve returned with a new junk science study designed to scare the bejabbers out of the general public and give the EPA additional ammo in its quest to regulate silver.
As mentioned earlier, the new study conducted at Purdue University supposedly demonstrates that silver nanoparticles are highly toxic to fathead minnows, from the embryonic stage to the adult stage – implicating silver as an environmental toxin.
Science Daily, long a mouthpiece for the radical environmentalists who seek to have colloidal silver banned, announced the study results in an article with the following glaring headline:
“Popular Nanoparticle Causes
Toxicity in Fish, Study Shows”
Their ominous-sounding subhead read:
“A nanoparticle growing in popularity as a bactericidal agent has been shown to be toxic to fish, according to a Purdue University study.”
Ooooh. Alert the media. Oh wait. They are the media.
The article continues with the bad news:
“Tested on fathead minnows -- an organism often used to test the effects of toxicity on aquatic life -- nanosilver suspended in solution proved toxic and even lethal to the minnows.
“Nanosilver is growing in popularity as a component of many commercial products. It is used to kill bacteria in goods such as odor-control clothing, countertops, cutting boards and detergents.”
(Urgent Warning to All Fathead Minnows: Don’t use nanosilver-infused cutting boards, or dress in clothes infused with silver nanoparticles!)
Finally, the article gets around to the real point of it all:
Currently, there are few regulations for nanosilver's applications in products, but Ron Turco, professor of agronomy and the paper's co-author, said the Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the situation…
‘Silver has been used in the past as an antimicrobial agent. It's a known toxicant to microorganisms,’ he said. ‘Nanosilver is being considered by the EPA for environmental exposure profiling, much like a pesticide.’”
Setting the Stage
There you have it. The whole point of the study is to give the Environmental Protection Agency the ammunition they need to regulate (read: ban) the sale of nanosilver in consumer products.
The release of this type of study during a period when the EPA is reviewing the use of nanosilver in commercial products is a tactic unworthy of a scientific institution as prestigious as Purdue University.
In fact, this is what’s called an “agenda driven” study. And its release has been timed solely for the purpose of helping radical environmentalists set the stage for future EPA regulatory involvement in the nanosilver industry.
It’s called stacking the deck. And it’s not science. Instead, it’s scientific chicanery. It’s pure, unadulterated deception.
Implications Without Evidence
The implication of the study, of course, is that if silver nanoparticles are toxic to these tiny fathead minnows, then they must be toxic to other life forms, including humans, as well.
And if silver nanoparticles are also toxic to fathead minnow embroyos as the study also contends, then they must be toxic to the embroyos of other life forms, including humans, as well.
Of course, we know from previous research that nanosilver used in moderation isn’t the least bit toxic to animal or human sperm, eggs or reproduction. In fact, as this article demonstrates, nanosilver is used safely by researchers as a “stain” to allow them to watch zebra fish embryo development from conception to birth. And it’s also used as a preservative for swine sperm so it can be used in artificial insemination.
Indeed, the December 1990 peer-reviewed study titled Toxicological Profile for Silver, conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control) found there were no signs of teratogenic (i.e., birth malformation or other malformation) effects from silver.
Similarly, according to the EPA’s own document #EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0, titled Ionic Silver: Toxicity and Weight of the Evidence, “A developmental study in rats conducted by NTP (National Toxicology Program) did not demonstrate there was any susceptibility of newborn animals to the toxic effects of silver.”
But facts like those won’t stop the radical environmentalists from using junk science to make their case that silver is somehow “toxic” to environmental wildlife.
So let’s briefly discuss this latest study, and see if it has any real merits. First, we’ll take a quick look at the study abstract:
Ecotoxicology. 2010 Jan;19(1):185-95.
The effects of silver nanoparticles on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) embryos.
Laban G, Nies LF, Turco RF, Bickham JW, Sepúlveda MS.
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University, 195 Marsteller St., West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.
Nanoparticles are being used in many commercial applications. We describe the toxicity of two commercial silver (Ag) nanoparticle (NP) products, NanoAmor and Sigma on Pimephales promelas embryos. Embryos were exposed to varying concentrations of either sonicated or stirred NP solutions for 96 h. LC(50) values for NanoAmor and Sigma Ag NPs were 9.4 and 10.6 mg/L for stirred and 1.25 and 1.36 mg/L for sonicated NPs, respectively. Uptake of Ag NPs into the embryos was observed after 24 h using Transmission Electron Microscopy and Ag NPs induced a concentration-dependent increase in larval abnormalities, mostly edema. Dissolved Ag released from Ag NPs was measured using Inductively Coupled-Mass Spectrometry and the effects tested were found to be three times less toxic when compared to Ag nitrate (AgNO(3)). The percentage of dissolved Ag released was inversely proportional to the concentration of Ag NPs with the lowest (0.625 mg/L) and highest (20 mg/L) concentrations tested releasing 3.7 and 0.45% dissolved Ag, respectively and percent release was similar regardless if concentrations were stirred or sonicated. Thus increased toxicity after sonication cannot be solely explained by dissolved Ag. We conclude that both dissolved and particulate forms of Ag elicited toxicity to fish embryos.
As you can see, the study was published in the journal Ecotoxicity, which is an environmental journal covering toxic matters as they relate to the ecology .
After reading the abstract, we see that the researchers tested to see if two different commercial forms of powdered silver nanoparticles would harm fathead minnows, from the embryo stage to the adult stage.
Pretty spiffy stuff, right? And ostensibly a noble purpose.
But wait. Do the study authors go out into a local real-life environment, and test for concentrations of powdered silver nanoparticles in the water? And then capture fathead minnows from that very environment and test them to see if the levels of powdered silver nanoparticles are having any adverse effects on the little critters in real life?
Hmmm. Nope. That’s not what they did at all.
Instead, they took some fathead minnows and put them into artificial, enclosed test tube environments. Then they inundated those artificial, test tube environments with varying levels of powdered silver nanoparticles purchased from commercial sources.
What’s more, into some of these artificial test tube environments they apparently “stirred” the powdered silver nanoparticles, and then allowed them to settle to the bottom.
And into some they “sonicated” the silver, meaning they used ultrasound waves to keep the powdered silver nanoparticles continually agitated so they could not settle to the bottom.
So what did the researchers discover once they inundated the artificial test-tube environments with copious amounts of powdered silver nanoparticles, stirring some and sonicating others?
Well, they discovered that the fathead minnows in the artificial test tube environments that were merely stirred showed certain levels of toxicity. And the fathead minnows in the artificial test tube environments that were sonicated showed even higher levels of toxicity.
Wow. Proof positive that all products containing silver nanoparticles are “environmental toxins” and need to be regulated into oblivion by the EPA, right?
Only in the Mind of Minolta…
What is it that environmental researchers don’t understand about the concept of relevance?
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand their mindset.
After all, they don’t seem to approach science from a standpoint of discovering the truth. But instead, from a standpoint of manufacturing the “truth”…which is to say, creating a pre-conceived outcome by manipulating the study parameters until they get the results they’re looking for.
First of all, how many real-life environments are there in which people are dumping copious amounts of powdered silver nanoparticles into them? Mmmm. Let me think. Uhhhhh. None.
And into how many real-life environments are people dumping copious amounts of powdered silver nanoparticles, and then sonicating the environment with ultrasound waves so that the silver particles can never settle?
Once more, the answer is: None.
So…what’s the point of the study?
As George Foss, former general manager of Kayser Nutrition points out:
“The researchers did not even remotely attempt to replicate nature. They did not attempt to evaluate and replicate the amounts of nanosilver the fathead minnows might be exposed to in a real-life environment. The extremely high levels of nanosilver concentration used in the experiment were either a self-fulfilling prophecy at best, or constitute an experiment designed with a foregone conclusion at worst. That’s certainly not the type of science I was ever taught in school.”
Rosalind Volpe, D.PH, director of the Silver Nanoparticle Working Group, agrees. She states:
“As with all the other test tube studies we have seen recently this is a worst case scenario, since sonication does not occur in the natural environment. [In a real-life natural environment] nanoparticles will not only agglomerate, but will also attach to other ligands in the water which will neutralize them. Funds for research would be better used to test nanoparticles in the natural environment where the true behavior of these particles can be observed.”
Dr. Volpe is correct. As I stated in a previous blog post:
“…whenever silver nano-particles leach from products they are embedded in, such as diabetic foot stockings, or computer keyboards, or whatever, they almost immediately begin to bond (in a process called “agglomeration”) with salts, minerals and other substances in their immediate environment, forming larger particle agglomerates. Thus, once released into the environment the tiny silver nano-particles completely lose their nano-scale properties, becoming essentially inert.”
In other words, silver nanoparticles released into the environment essentially become bound silver (i.e., bound to salts, minerals and other substances) rather than free silver, and are at that point basically inert.
Artificial Environment, Artificial Results
In their experiment, the researchers did not account for this. They simply added pure powdered silver nanoparticles into the artificial habitats they had created, until the build-up reached toxic levels.
Had the study been conducted in a real-life environment such as a lake, a stream bed, tide pool, or even a sewage system, those powdered silver nanoparticles would have rapidly agglomerated with other substances and would thereby have completely lost their nanoscale properties. And the results of the study would inevitably have been quite different.
As established in the well-known waste water study of 2003, published in the journal Water Research, “Silver is well known to be strongly passivated by natural environmental complexing agents such as sulfur, chlorides, phosphate and dust.” (1,2.J.Wang, CP.Huang, D.Pirestani, “Interactions of silver with wastewater constituents,” Water Research, 37 (2003) pp4444-4452.)
In other words, for all intents and purposes, a natural environment renders silver essentially inactive as a biocidal agent.
That’s why the world’s oceans can be teaming with wildlife of every sort imaginable -- from the smallest single-celled creatures to the largest mammals -- even while they contain millions of tons of trace silver!
And that’s why environmental researchers routinely refuse to study the effects of silver nanoparticles in nature, but instead, do irrelevant laboratory test tube studies in which the various factors of the study can be artificially manipulated to create the desired outcomes.
As Dr. Volpe points out in a recent letter to Dr. Stephen Bradbury, acting director of the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs:
“…many of the calls for regulation of nanosilver cite in vitro (e.g. test tube) data obtained in idealized fluid conditions generally at extremely high dose concentrations – i.e. far away from real-life use conditions.
This is particularly true for silver, where under real environmental conditions silver has repeatedly been shown, including by EPA’s own scientists, to be deactivated and rendered benign by ubiquitous environmental agents such as sulfur, dust, and organic matter.
…In vivo [e.g. live environment] tests that adequately take into account conditions of real-life use provide a more appropriate context for assessing the real-life risk profile of nanosilver.”
In short, creating an artificial environment and manipulating the levels of silver and other factors until the pre-determined results are achieved is no way to determine silver’s effect on the environment.
But that’s exactly what the radical environmentalists are doing in order to give the EPA the ammunition needed in order to justify the regulation of silver nanoparticles (including colloidal silver products) as “toxic environmental pesticides.”
The Environmentalist Game Plan
This new study will now inevitably be touted, along with all of the other largely discredited studies that continue to be heralded by radical environmentalists (like this one), as proof positive that silver nanoparticles are “dangerous to the environment.”
The environmentalists know that all they need to do is create the illusion that the “preponderance of scientific evidence” demonstrates toxicity for silver -- even if they have to fudge this “preponderance of scientific evidence” in order to do so – and the EPA will fall into line and begin to hyper-regulate commercial products containing nanosilver.
You’re watching it happen with your own eyes. And remember, you read about it here, first.
Soon, I predict, the EPA will announce that they’ve been taking another “good, hard look” at the evidence for silver’s potential environmental toxicity, and have found that all products containing silver nanoparticles – including colloidal silver -- need to be either banned or regulated as “toxic environmental pesticides.”
It’s All About Control
For nearly a decade another federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tried to regulate colloidal silver products into oblivion, only to discover there were no grounds whatsoever for doing so.
Try as they might, they could not find any significant harm from these products.
The FDA finally settled for banning information on colloidal silver’s unique antimicrobial benefits in all product labeling and in advertising,
In their infamous “Final Ruling” of June 1999 the FDA claimed that because no FDA-approved over-the-counter drug studies had been conducted on colloidal silver products, they must be considered “unsafe and ineffective” for use as an antimicrobial agent, and could therefore not be labeled or advertised as being safe or effective.
In one fell swoop they wiped out over 2,000 years of history in which silver has successfully, safely and very effectively been used as an immune-boosting, infection-fighting antimicrobial agent.
Now the radical environmental groups want the EPA to do the same thing, but from a different angle and with much greater bureaucratic stringency. They want to the EPA to re-categorize products containing tiny silver particles as “toxic environmental pesticides” and to so strictly regulate their use so as to make it too costly for commercial enterprises to use silver in their products.
In other words, while the FDA says silver is “ineffective” as an antimicrobial agent, the radical environmentalists want the EPA to say it is far too effective, in fact, so darned effective it needs to be hyper-regulated in order to “protect” environmentally sensitive microbes, “fathead minnows” and yes, even the public at large.
The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife…
Own the Means of NanoSilver Production
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