Nanosilver and Global Public Health: International Regulatory Issues
Thomas Alured Faunce
Australian National University; Australian Research Council
Australian National University - ANU College of Law
Nanomedicine, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 617-632, 2010
ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 10-48
Silver in nanoparticle form is used extensively worldwide in hospital and general practice settings in dressings as a treatment for external wounds, burns, and ulcers. Nanosilver also is an increasingly important coating over embedded medical devices, inhibiting the development of biofilm. Nanosilver disinfectant sprays and polymer coatings are being widely promoted as protective against viral infections. Nanosilver additionally is widely used for its anti-bacterial properties in food processing and packaging, as well as consumer products used for domestic cleaning and clothing.
This article argues that medical devices, therapeutic products and domestic food and goods containing nanosilver, though offering therapeutic benefits, must be subject to precautionary regulation because of associated public health and environmental risks, particularly from large volumes of nanosilver in waste water. It first examines the use of nanosilver in a variety of contemporary medical and domestic products and this utilization may assist in resolving global public health problems such as restricted access to safe food, water and medical care. It then discusses the mechanisms of toxicity for nanosilver, whether it should be classified as a new chemical entity for regulatory purposes and whether its increased usage poses significant environmental and public health risks. The article next critically analyses representative international regulatory regimes (the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Australia) for medical and domestic use of nanosilver. The conclusion includes a set of recommendations for improving international regulation of nanosilver in terms of both its safety and potential positive contribution to global public health. Author's proof copy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: Nanosilver, Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, Nanotoxicology, Public Health, Health Technology Regulation
JEL Classification: D63, D81, I18, K32, L65Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 16, 2010 ; Last revised: July 30, 2010
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