Groups Demand EPA Stop Sale Of 200+ Potentially Dangerous Nano-Silver

Nanotech Watchdog Launches First-Ever Legal Challenge To EPA Over
Unregulated Nanotech Pesticide Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 1, 2008

Contact: George Kimbrell, International Center for Technology Assessment
(CTA), 202-547-9359, gkimbrell@icta.org; Kevin Golden, International
Center for Technology Assessment (CA office), 415-826-2770,
kgolden@icta.org

Washington, DC - The International Center for Technology Assessment
(CTA) and a coalition of consumer, health, and environmental groups
today filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), demanding the agency use its pesticide regulation authority to
stop the sale of numerous consumer products now using nano-sized
versions of silver. The legal action is the first challenge to EPA's
failure to regulate nanomaterials.

Increasingly manufacturers are infusing a large and diverse number of
consumer products with nanoparticle silver ("nano-silver") for its
enhanced "germ killing" abilities. Nano-silver is now the most common
commercialized nanomaterial. CTA found over 260 nano-silver products
currently on the market, ranging from household appliances and cleaners
to clothing, cutlery, and children's toys to personal care products and
coated electronics. Yet as CTA's legal petition addresses, the release
of this unique substance may be highly destructive to natural
environments and raises serious human health concerns.

"These nano-silver products now being illegally sold are pesticides,"
said George Kimbrell, CTA nanotech staff attorney. "Nano-silver is
leeching into the environment, where it will have toxic effects on fish,
other aquatic species and beneficial microorganisms. EPA must stop
avoiding this problem and use its legal authority to fulfill its
statutory duties."

Nanotechnology is a powerful new platform technology for taking apart
and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Just as
the size and chemical characteristics of manufactured nanoparticles can
give them unique properties, those same new properties--tiny size,
vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, high reactivity--can also
create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks.

While silver is known to be toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, recent
scientific studies have shown that nano-silver is much more toxic and
can cause damage in new ways. Exposures are occurring during use and
disposal. A 2008 study showed that washing nano-silver socks releases
substantial amounts of the nano-silver into the laundry discharge water,
which will ultimately reach natural waterways and potentially poison
fish and other aquatic organisms. Another 2008 study found that
releases of nano-silver can destroy benign bacteria used in wastewater
treatment.

The legal petition demands that the EPA regulate nano-silver as a unique
pesticide that can cause new and serious impacts on the environment. The
hundred-page petition calls on EPA to: regulate these nanotechnology
products as new pesticides; require labeling of all products; assess
health and safety data before permitting marketing; analyze the
potential human health effects, particularly on children; and analyze
the potential environmental impacts on ecosystems and endangered
species.

"The law does not allow the agency to stand idle while a new legacy of
toxic pollution emerges," added Joseph Mendelson, CTA Legal Director.
"In an era of toxic water bottles, now is the time for the EPA to
prevent a serious new environmental issue from occurring."

Many of the products in the petition's appendix are meant for children
(baby bottles, toys, stuffed animals, and clothing) or otherwise create
high human exposures (cutlery, food containers, paints, bedding and
personal care products) despite very little study of nano-silver's
potential human health impacts. Studies have questioned whether
traditional assumptions about silver's safety are sufficient in light of
the unique properties of nano-scale materials.

Concerns over nano-silver were first raised by national wastewater
utilities in early 2006. One then-new product, Samsung's SilverCare(tm)
Washer, releases silver ions into the waste stream with every load of
laundry. In response, according to November 2006 media reports, EPA
said that it would regulate nano-silver products as pesticides.
However, one year later EPA published a guidance covering only the
Samsung washer and allowing it to remain on the market.

***

Joining the CTA petition are: the Center for Food Safety, Beyond
Pesticides, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, ETC Group, Center for
Environmental Health, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy, Clean Production Action, Food and Water
Watch, the Loka Institute, the Center for Study of Responsive Law, and
Consumers Union.

***

CTA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to providing
the public with full assessments and analyses of technological impacts
on society. CTA works towards adequate oversight of nanotechnology
through its Nanotechnology Project, NanoAction.

For more, including the full petition, executive summary and product
appendix, please see www.icta.org and
www.nanoaction.org

International Center for Technology Assessment

660 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., Suite 302, Washington, DC 20003

(202) 547-9359 fax (202) 547-9429 www.icta.org