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Chapter 2

Silver and its Compounds, Chemistry and Biological Interactions

Silver is a transitional metal with three valencies. The monovalent ion Ag+is of principle interest as an antibiotic. Technological advances allow silver or ionisable silver compounds to be incorporated in or coated on natural and synthetic materials for medical use. Antibacterial and antifungal action depends on levels of Ag+ released in the presence of water or body fluids. Metallic silver and inorganic silver compounds ionise to some extent and the free silver ion is highly interactive with biological materials. In ecosystems, silver residues released from industrial plants may present an environmental problem but more research is required on the entry of the metal into food chains.

Improved understanding of the action and accumulation of silver in plant and animal life is achieved by the more accurate analytic procedures available nowadays. New guidelines on environmental limits and human exposures to silver are beneficially based on recent studies using accurate analyses and quality controls.

Nanotechnology has provides great benefits in advancing the antimicrobial efficacy of silver in medical devices. The bactericidal and fungicidal effect of silver is proportional to the surface area of particles exposed and concentrations of free Ag+ in the medium. Ionisation and antibacterial efficacy of silver nitrate, silver sulphadiazine and other inorganic silver compounds is discussed

Print publication date: 07 May 2010
Copyright year: 2010
Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-006-8
PDF eISBN: 978-1-84973-179-9
From the book series:
Issues in Toxicology