Calls for Samsung washing machine recall in face of nano-silver risks to environment and human health

November 27, 2006

In the face of growing concerns about the toxicity risks that nano silver poses to environmental systems and human health, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that it would move to introduce the world’s first nanotechnology-specific regulations. The US EPA will now regulate products that contain nano silver and claim to act as “anti-bacterial” as pesticides, including Samsung’s “Nano Silver” washing machine, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and air conditioner.

In recent months concerns have been mounting that nano silver poses unacceptable risks to beneficial bacteria in environmental systems and to human health. The backlash has resulted in the US EPA decision to regulate nano silver as a pesticide, the withdrawal of Samsung’s “Nano Silver” washing machine from sale in Sweden, and calls from Friends of the Earth Germany for the washing machine’s withdrawal from the German market.

“Products such as Samsung’s “Nano Silver” washing machine will release nano silver directly into waste water systems” said Friends of the Earth Australia nanotechnology spokesperson Dr Rye Senjen. “Nano silver is a powerful anti-bacterial. There is a real risk that effluent containing nano silver could kill beneficial bacteria and disrupt ecosystem functioning”.

“In vitro scientific studies demonstrate that nano silver is also highly toxic to mammalian brain cells, stem cells and liver cells. It is incomprehensible that products containing nano silver should have been allowed on to the market in the absence of regulations requiring safety testing.”

“In light of mounting evidence of nano silver’s toxicity, and the US EPA’s decision to regulate products such as Samsung’s washing machine as a pesticide, Friends of the Earth calls on Samsung to recall its “Nano Silver” range from sale in Australia until peer-reviewed studies can demonstrate its safety for the environment and human health”.

“Samsung has already withdrawn its Nano Silver washing machine from sale in Sweden because of community concern. Friends of the Earth calls for them to withdraw their Nano Silver range from sale in Australia also.”

“Given the poorly understood toxicity risks of nanoparticles, the threat they pose to the health of workers, the public and environmental systems, and the absence of regulatory systems to manage these risks, Friends of the Earth Australia repeats our call for an immediate moratorium on the release of products containing nanoparticles. Products containing nanoparticles should not be on the market in the absence of regulations to protect the public and the environment from risk,” said Dr Senjen.

For comment contact Dr Rye Senjen (03) 9418 1045 or 0431 66 2124

For more information about nanotechnology visit http://nano.foe.org.au