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Is Nanosilver Safe for Baby Blankets?

A judge orders the EPA to re-consider the health effects of a controversial antimicrobial agent.

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cute baby in a crib
Photo: Yulie Reutovich / Istock

By Dan Shapley

You may not know it, but the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 ok'd a company's use of a controversial new antibacterial (a.k.a. "pesticide) substance for use in textiles, including baby blankets: nanosilver.

But the EPA failed to follow its own rules, particularly when it comes to assessing the risk of the new product on toddlers, according to a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge that ruled in favor of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The ruling doesn't mean nanosilver is off the market. Indeed, "its use in fabrics, food storage containers, hair dryers and other products continues to grow, despite potential dangerous health effects," according to NRDC.

But it does mean that the four-year window EPA had granted to one company to assess the risks to human health and the environment of its nanosilver textiles is revoked, pending further court-ordered study by the EPA.

“The court’s ruling puts us a step closer toward removing nanosilver from textiles,” said Mae Wu, an attorney in NRDC’s Health Program. “EPA shouldn’t have approved nanosilver in the first place. This is just one of a long line of decisions by the agency treating people and our environment as guinea pigs and laboratories for these untested pesticides.”


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