WASHINGTON – The International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) and a coalition of consumer, health and environmental groups has 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 nanosized versions of silver. The legal action is the first challenge to EPA’s failure to regulate nanomaterials.  

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. 

 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, and exposures are occurring during use and disposal, such as laundering products treated with nano-silver.  

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 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.