NIOSH Evaluating Silver Nanoparticle Health Risks

The agency's request for information cites recently reported animal studies where lung, kidney, and liver function were affected by exposure to AgNPs.

NIOSH has begun to evaluate the potential risk to workers' health posed by silver nanoparticles, or AgNPs, and also to identify gaps in the technical knowledge so lab and field studies can be done. The agency's request for information is published in the Dec. 19 edition of the Federal Register, and it says comments will be accepted for 60 days at www.regulations.gov by visiting Docket No. CDC-2012-0014.

AgNPs are used in products such as sensors, filters, inks, and in antimicrobial coatings. Some textiles, keyboards, wound dressings, and biomedical devices contain them, according to Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC.

The request asks for published and unpublished reports on in vitro and in vivo toxicity studies of AgNPs, information on possible health effects in workers exposed to them, descriptions of work tasks with the potential for exposures, measurement methods and workplace exposure data, and information about control measures.

It cites recently reported animal studies where lung, kidney, and liver function were affected from exposure to AgNPs. A 90-day inhalation study involving rats found decreases in lung function and lung inflammation persisted in high-dose-exposed animals 12 weeks after the exposure ceased, the request states.

It also says published reports on workers' AgNP exposure are limited but indicate exposure can occur through airborne release during the production of silver nanoparticles or can result from exposure during electro-refining of silver.

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