Antibacterial Nanosilver and Those Sneaky Environmentalists

As a journalist and a natural health advocate, I constantly watch how the “other side” makes their case against antibacterial silver, colloidal silver, nanosilver, and other silver-based antibacterial products. In other words, I watch how they use clever propaganda techniques to promote their anti-silver agenda.

For example, one of the most interesting tactics the environmentalists are now taking in their quest to have nanosilver products (including colloidal silver products) regulated as “pesticides” is to write articles that initially admit products containing nanosilver have beneficial qualities.

In these articles, the environmentalist author generally starts out appearing to be a moderate advocate for silver-based products. This sneaky tactic sucks you into their article, making it appear the author is unbiased and is going to present an even-handed case regarding the use of antibacterial silver in commercial products.

But then, as the article winds to its conclusion, the true agenda of the environmentalist author shows up. He (or she) suddenly turns against silver-based antibacterial products, and starts using exaggerations, hyperbole and sensationalistic claims to smear the use of silver as “potentially harmful to human health.”

Advocates, or Master Propagandists?

In short, these master propagandists begin their articles sounding like advocates for the use of silver as an antimicrobial agent, and end their articles denigrating silver as a “danger” to society.

Here’s one recent example, from the so-called Cold Truth blog: http://www.coldtruth.com/2009/08/10/nano-packaging-of-food-kills-deadly-bacteria-but-government-says-no-go/comment-page-1/#comment-1688.

As you’ll see, the author begins his article as if he’s a passionate advocate of the use of silver for antimicrobial purposes in commercial products.

He seems to be defending a manufacturer of silver-based antibacterial food packaging who can’t get his product approved by the FDA.

But that’s just the tactic the author – a well-known environmentalist journalist – uses to lure readers into his article, and to create the illusion that he’s being even-handed in his treatment of the subject.

By the end of the article, the author reveals his true motives. He reverts to the same hyper-exaggerations and sensationalistic tactics the environmentalists always revert to. He begins making up claims against antibacterial silver out of whole cloth, and using hyperbolic language to scare readers into believing silver is a threat to the environment and to human health as well.

This same environmentalist author, by the way, used this very same tactic some months back, in an article entitled, “Health Risks from Silver Nanoparticles is a Growing Threat to Consumers and Workers.” When I commented on his article on his website, and pointed out the exaggerations and inconsistencies, he removed my comment. So I wrote about it, exposing his questionable propaganda tactics here.

My Answer to His Latest Anti-Silver Propaganda Rant

Here then is my answer to this author’s latest drive-by-shooting against products containing antibacterial nanosilver:

Dear Mr. Schneider:

Because you’re an investigative reporter who claims to publish the “cold truth” about health and environmental issues, I’d like to point out that there are several demonstrably untrue statements in your recent post entitled “Nano packaging of food kills deadly bacteria, but government says no go.”

In addition to the rather serious untruths in your article, which I’ll cover briefly below, you also failed to tell the truth by way of omission. Which is to say, the information you left out of your article is in some cases more indicative of the truth than the information you included in your article.

Those Dreaded Nanosilver Panties – Oh My!

For example, when you wrote about the issue of nanosilver being embedded into the fabric of clothing for antimicrobial purposes, you railed against it, claiming that “frivolous products containing nanosilver particles” have now reached “absurd levels,” including “nano-infused bras, panties, athletic supporters, socks, pants and scores of other products.”

What you failed to point out is that the vast majority of such silver-impregnated clothing items are medical in nature, for example:

  • Special nanosilver stockings for diabetics, which help prevent diabetic foot, ankle and leg ulcers from becoming so infected that amputation is the only way to resolve the situation…
  • Special nanosilver socks for the U.S. military, to help prevent “foot rot,” athlete’s foot and other serious fungal infections for our troops stationed in war zones and other areas where there are often less than sanitary conditions…
  • Special nanosilver imbedded sports clothing for athletes to help prevent the spread of MRSA infections and other serious bacterial infections now commonly associated with close contact sports.

I could go on and on, but I don’t think it really matters to you.

Instead of pointing out that nanosilver impregnated clothing was a medical Godsend for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, you hyper-exaggerated the situation. Oh, my! Those dread nanosilver panties are clearly threatening the health of millions.

Or so you’d have your readers believe. (I truly hope they’re not that gullible.)

The Old Lie About Nanosilver In the Water Supply

You then stated, “It didn’t take long for environmental scientists to find community water treatment plants loaded with nanosilver washed from these clothing items.”

Sir, where is your evidence for that statement? If that is indeed the “cold truth,” please enlighten me. Where’s the proof?

While the news media has been rife with reports of the contamination of the community water supplies of this nation with dozens of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, I have not seen a single news report about overly high levels of silver particles being found in community water treatment plants.

Indeed, to my knowledge, there have been ZERO reports of community water treatment plants being “loaded” with nanosilver, as you so sensationalistically claim.

What Really Happened…

What you failed to tell your readers is that several preliminary laboratory tests were performed in which items of clothing embedded with nanosilver were repeatedly washed until the silver particles began coming loose from the fabric. The so-called environmental “scientists” who conducted these studies then leaped to the conclusion that nanosilver from antibacterial clothing is contaminating water treatment plants and community water supplies.

But to my knowledge, to this day they have provided no significant or realistic evidence whatsoever for this kneejerk conclusion. No testing of community water treatment plants have demonstrated rising levels of nanosilver.

Agglomeration of Silver Particles

Most people who have studied the situation carefully, and with an unprejudiced eye, understand that nanosilver does not maintain its “nano” characteristics once it is released into the environment.

Instead, it rapidly agglomerates, or bonds, with other minerals such as alkaline salts, forming large particle agglomerates, and becoming virtually inert in terms of its previous antibacterial qualities.

In other words, once nanosilver enters the environment, it loses its “nano” qualities. It becomes like any other mineral substance found in water (also known as “dirt”).

Contrary to the wild assertions of some environmentalist groups like the International Center for Technology Assessment and Friends of the Earth, this poses no danger whatsoever to our nation’s waterways, or to the flora and fauna that depend upon the waterways, or to water treatment plants, or to people in general.

In fact, it is no different than the hundreds of streams in Colorado that are naturally brimming with billions of tiny silver particles, thanks largely to the abundance of mineral silver in the soil there. Some of my favorite trout fishing streams, ponds and lakes in Colorado are full of mineral silver, both naturally, and due to silver being leached from surrounding silver mine tailings. Yet these streams are rich with micro-flora and macro-flora. And the fishing is wonderful.

So it’s ludicrous to assert that simply because silver is found in waterways or water treatment plants that it is somehow “dangerous” or “toxic.” In reality, when it is found, it is generally bonded with other minerals, and is relatively inert.

More Environmentalist Exaggerations

You also ominously intoned, “Most filtration systems can’t stop these nano-sized particles from entering the water supply. More importantly, very little research has been done on the health effects from the resulting exposure to humans and animals.”

If “these nanosilver particles” you speak of actually remained in their “nano” state once introduced into the environment, I could understand your concern. But they don’t. As I stated, they agglomerate with other minerals and essentially become “dirt.”

These large, agglomerated particles are then filtered from the drinking water before it is passed along to the consumer, just like dirt is. There is absolutely ZERO evidence that nanosilver from clothing or other sources is reaching consumers in any significant amounts through the water supply.

In fact, please, show me even one study documenting a significant uptick in the silver content of drinking water in any major city’s drinking water, from clothing embedded with nanosilver particles, or for any other reason, for that matter.

What’s that you say? You can’t? So much for the “cold truth,” huh?

And even if there were such evidence (which there is not), there is still ZERO evidence of any negative health consequences to humans from it. Zero is a far cry from the potentially serious health consequences you imply in your propaganda piece disguised as a news article.

Cracks and Crevices

Like most environmentalists, the foundation of your entire case against nanosilver is full of cracks and crevices. Indeed, environmentalist outcries against nanosilver have been hysterical at best. For example, recent calls by Friends of the Earth to ban colloidal silver products or regulate them as drugs (see here) were ludicrous at face value, being based on the idea that commercial nanosilver products are now so prevalent in American households they are preventing little children from being exposed to all of the germs needed to stimulate their budding immune systems.

I don’t know about the kids being raised by the people who run Friends of the Earth, but my kids roll in the dirt, crawl across dirty floors, climb trees, swim in muddy ponds, play with the neighbors dogs and cats, catch bugs and lizards and frogs, suck on candy they’ve dropped on the floor, and last week I even caught one of them digging for “treasure” in a local dumpster. So I don’t think they’re in any danger of failing to come into enough contact with germs to stimulate their budding immune systems.

And I certainly don’t think owning a “Benny the Bear” plush toy with fabric that’s embedded with particles of nanosilver is going to create too sterile of an environment for them. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Friends of the Earth contend in their sensationalistic 26-page position paper on nanosilver (read about it, here), released in June of this year. It’s ludicrous. Hysterical. And utterly misleading.

Do the Right Thing!

Since you claim to be an award-winning (Pulitzer, yet!) investigative reporter who reveals the “cold truth” and “exposes health issues the corporations don’t want you to know about,” I’d like to see you write about far more serious problems, such as the literal cornucopia of pharmaceutical drugs now contaminating many of the community water supplies in our nation.

The fact that so many environmental groups are taking a pass on the very real issue of our nation’s drug-polluted water supplies, and are instead making the ludicrous claim that simple, natural nanosilver poses a serious environmental threat, has led many people to conclude that the funding these groups are taking from foundations connected with major drug companies such as Merck and Pfizer (see here) is tainting their vision at best, and utterly corrupting them at worst.

What say ye? Some actual “cold truth” on this subject would be a welcome change of pace.

Regards,

Spencer Jones

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