Toxicological Profile for Silver – Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
In this U.S. Public Health Service report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the health and toxicological effects of silver ingested or absorbed through various means are examined. The report states that most of the silver that is eaten or breathed in leaves the body in the feces within about a week. And that argyria (i.e., skin discoloration) is the “most serious heath effect” of excessive silver exposure.
According to the report, “It is likely that many exposures to silver are necessary to develop argyria. Once you have argyria it is permanent. However, the condition is thought to be only a ‘cosmetic’ problem. Most doctors and scientists believe that the discoloration of the skin seen in argyria is the most serious health effect of silver.”
The report concludes, “Populations that are unusually susceptible to toxic effects of silver exposure are those that have a dietary deficiency of vitamin E or selenium, or that may have a genetically based deficiency in the metabolism of these essential nutrients. Individuals with damaged livers may also be more susceptible to the effects of silver exposure. In addition, populations with high exposures to selenium may be more likely to develop argyria. Furthermore, some individuals may exhibit an allergic response to silver.”
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