Silver Ion disinfection – Friend or Foe?

Some disinfectant products contain metals, such as silver, embedded in the surfaces themselves, with others being blended into the solution. Within the European Union (EU), these products containing silver have garnered concerns — leading to the banning of many products that contain silver ions. Following this decision, the US Environmental Protection agency (EPA) issued an opinion paper with studies on the impact silver can have on the environment and human health giving the takeaway that silver-based products have their place, but should be used sparingly as some forms of silver, when accumulated, may have negative impacts— impacting the flora and fauna in the ecosystem of the rivers and streams as well as the natural gut flora in the human body, possibly contributing to antimicrobial resistance. A big concern, which has sparked some states to discourage the use of silver in disinfectant products, is that the silver residue remains loose on the surfaces, which makes it easy for those silver particles to be dislodged and then ingested, absorbed through the skin, or washed down the drain into the rivers and streams.