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Nanosilver under FIFRA

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The first time EPA said it will regulate Nanosilver, I thought it was going to be regulated in a specific legislation, independently of pesticide. Well, it didn't. All products containing nanoparticle of silver is to be regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

FIFRA defines "active ingridient" as (§ 136. Definitions):
(1) in the case of a pesticide other than a plant regulator, defoliant, desiccant, or nitrogen stabilizer, an ingredient which will prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest;
(2) in the case of a plant regulator, an ingredient which, through physiological action, will accelerate or retard the rate of growth or rate of maturation or otherwise alter the behavior of ornamental or crop plants or the product thereof;
(3) in the case of a defoliant, an ingredient which will cause the leaves or foliage to drop from a plant;
(4) in the case of a desiccant, an ingredient which will artificially accelerate the drying of plant tissue; and
(5) in the case of a nitrogen stabilizer, an ingredient which will prevent or hinder the process of nitrification, denitrification, ammonia volatilization, or urease production through action affecting soil bacteria.

applies to all types of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and antimicrobials. Some minimum risk pesticides (green pesticides included) are exempted.

Thus, EPA Regulation can have a wide scope of various indoor use consumer goods and products used in health care. Antimicrobial pesticides are defined as "substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or limit the growth of microorganisms, whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi -- many of which are harmful-on inanimate objects and surfaces". So, anyone that claims that its product can kill germs, they are subjected to inspection. It is to be noted that EPA's regulation on antimicrobes differs slightly from general pesticide regulation, in that it obligates special efficacy test.

Anti decay coatings may be exempted as a "treated article":
An article or a substance treated with or containing a pesticide to protect the article or substance itself (for example, paint treated with a pesticide to protect the paint coating, or wood products treated to protect the wood against insects or fungus infestation), if the pesticide is registered for such use.
(Note the "registered for such use" condition). However, if they claim to kill E.coli, S.aureus, Salmonella sp. or Streptococcus sp. they must be registered as a pesticide as "it make a public health claim that goes beyond the preservation of the treated article itself". This means that some deodorant/absorpent might be required to register themselves under FIFRA. Those used for human and animal (antibiotics) may not be regulated under FIFRA but are subjected to FDA review.

Some of nanosilver products (such as the Samsung Washing Machine) are actually used for coating. Some other however are clear anti-microbes. Nanosilver has been presumed to be able to kill viruses such as HIV and Avian Flu and is currently under intensive research.

If used as merely as coating, Nanosilver may enjoy exemption. However, if producer claims that the coating kill germs (such as used in advertisement of washing machines) then they are subjected to review. If used as drugs, then it is the FDA's jurisdiction. The EU has yet to regulate nanosilver, but you can always checkout the EU's pesticide homepage here.

Nano-silver has been used in a wide range of product, either as coating or as anti-microbes, as used in
liquid condoms, soaps, dishwashing liquid. Some of these "food and drug" type nanosilver product has been manufactured in China and Korea. I think they might have difficulty if produced in USA. You can see them here.