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Chapter 10

A Final Thought: How Much Silver is Too Much?

Silver has been shown to be effective an antibacterial agent and means of controlling parasitic infections. This book has discussed in detail the various ways in which silver comes into contact with the human body and shown that with rare exceptions it is safe in use. This chapter summarises current views on the mechanisms of action of silver on microorganisms, and ways in which the human body metabolises silver ion. The principle problem associated with consumption of unregulated colloidal silver products and the production of long lasting discolorations of the skin and eye – argyria and argyrosis. This is a rare complication associated with silver-containing products presently covered by national legislation.

This final chapter reviews briefly, control of silver in healthcare products, environmental issues associated with silver contamination and current legislation relating to silver in water purification, nanotechnology of silver, and risk:benefit aspects of silver in wound care and other products. It emphasises areas where available knowledge on the action and efficacy of silver is inadequate and where further research is necessary. Whilst it is accepted that no silver-containing medical device is entirely successful in eliminating infections in wound care, catheters, hygiene clothing, water etc, experience has shown that silver and related products releasing Ag+ are efficacious in controlling pathogenic infections and achieving appropriate microbial balances without serious healthcare risks.

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