nano silver is it dangerous lungs ppe

Nano-silver, what’s the problem?

With multiple sources investigating the larger impact of nano-silver technology we thought we would share what we’ve learned, and some information on how HeiQ Viroblock technology differs from other treatments out there.

What is it?

Many widely used surgical face masks use a nano-silver blend in order to protect people from diseases and viruses such as COVID-19. However, there is much debate about whether the benefits of nano-silver outweigh the possible side effects on the environment and on the human body if it enters the food chain or lungs.

Nano-silver is widely used because of its antimicrobial properties, which kill bacteria when activated via oxidation. The nano-silver particles are between 1 and 100 nanometres and are so small that it would be difficult to see them even under a microscope. By comparison, a human hair measures around 40,000 nanometres wide.

How does it work?

An ever-increasing number of day-to-day products now contain nano-silver, from paint to water filters, socks, and toothbrushes. There is some evidence that shows that nano-silver controls the growth of micro-organisms on surfaces and in solutions. The theory behind that is that silver ions are thought to punch holes in bacterial membranes rendering them unable to perform their most basic functions.

So, what’s wrong with it?

Although silver has been used safely for centuries, nano-silver particles are now widely used commercially and at scale. The implications of the rapid uptake of these technologies and the interaction with the ecosystem remain unclear.

  • The understood risk to humans: “Silver as a metal does not pose any danger, but when you break it down to nano-sizes, the particles become small enough to penetrate a cell wall. If nano-silver enters a human cell, it can cause changes in the cell,” explains Associate Professor Frank Kjeldsen and Ph.D. Thiago Verano-Braga, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.
  • The understood risk to the environment: There is a lot of mixed messages on the impact of nano-silver on the environment. Currently, research proves fairly inconclusive over the long-term impacts though some studies have warned of toxicity in the ecosystem. “Silver nanoparticles inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, essential to the wastewater treatments process. Similarly, these particles also threaten aquatic and terrestrials populations of microbes at the corner stone of many ecosystems.”

HeiQ & AnyBrand Difference

HeiQ Viroblock treatment has been tested effective against multiple viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) and uses non-nano silver particles & vesicle technology. Our aim with AnyBrand face coverings is to ensure we look after people and the environment.

  • HeiQ Viroblock uses small (non-nano) silver particles. These are potent antibacterial and antiviral agents due to high surface area to volume ratio and unique chemical and physical properties 1
  • This silver component attracts and binds to the virus
  • Small silver particles are effective against viruses, effectively eliminating them following short exposure of isolated viruses to silver1
  • HeiQ small silver particles contribute to a broad-spectrum of antiviral mechanisms that are not prone to inducing resistance
  • The vesicle component acts as a booster and destroys the viral membrane
  • HeiQ Viroblock depletes the viral membrane of the cholesterol content of the virus in minutes
  • By keeping the textile free of viable viruses and bacteria, HeiQ Viroblock treated textiles help to minimize the potential for re-transmission of pathogens from textiles

‘Since HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 was designed for use on face masks to impart enhanced protection against viruses and bacteria, we selected only the most effective, safest and most sustainable ingredients.’ says Carlo Centonze, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of HeiQ Group.

HeiQ treated masks have also been tested for levels of Cytotoxicity and Extractables (the breakdown of the treatment through breathing and washing). FFP2 masks treated with Viroblock were concluded to be non-cytotoxic2. FFP2 masks treated with Viroblock subject to dynamic airflow conditions over a period of 8 hours did not show release of particles or chemical compounds into the airstream exiting the mask.3

In conclusion, HeiQ Viroblock technology shares many of the beneficial properties of nano-silver whilst removing the potential risk associated with ‘nano’ treatments. For more information on HeiQ Viroblock you can visit their site at heiq.com/technologies/heiq-viroblock/ .

Data provided by HeiQ, based on testing conducted on similar fabrics.
HeiQ, HeiQ Viroblock and Viroblock are trademark(s) or registered trademark(s) of HeiQ  Materials AG.

1) Stefania Galdiero et. al. (2011) Silver Nanoparticles as Potential Antiviral Agents, molecules 2011, 16, 8894-8918.
2) ISO Agarose Overlay Using L-929 Mouse Fibroblact Cells; Protocol Number 140150-17; Performing Lab: WuXi AppTec, Inc. Study Number 182077
3) Extractables from Facemasks – Dynamic Flow Conditions: Aspen Research Corporation: Project number A47347

For more information on nano-silver, there is a multitude of sources available. I have put links for a couple of these sources below.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3702006/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17185269/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1382668914002427

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