Potable water being delivered to a cistern in San Miguel de Allende (C) Daniel FriedmanUsing Colloidal Silver for Water Purification / Dinsinfection
Warnings & research concerning use of colloidal silver treatment for water disinfection / purification

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Limitations of colloidal silver disinfection's raise serious questions about the ability colloidal silver solutions to produce safe, potable drinking water:

This article describes the limitations of relying on colloidal silver disinfection to make drinking water safe and potable. The article cites research on the use of colloidal silver and it cites health authority warnings about colloidal silver in various applicaitons including in water solution, in water disinfection, in drinking water, and in water filters. We explain that some biological or pathogenic drinking water contaminants are either resistant to standard disinfection approaches such as chlorination while other water contaminants such as hazardous chemicals or particulates are simply not addressed by disinfection.

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Colloidal Silver Water Filters for Drinking Water Purification

Colloidal silver water filters for water disinfection & purification

Silver ceramic water filters are ceramic water filters which have been treated with colloidal silver - a step which might increase water filter effectiveness by killing bacteria in water passing through the system. Silver ceramic water filters are discussed separately in detail at CERAMIC FILTERS for WATER DISINFECTION.

But even a casual review of colloidal silver research indicates that while this substance may be safe for humans and other animals in topically applied uses (burns for example) (Maneewattanapinyo 2011), colloidal silver, including in newer nanoparticle forms (Panyala 2008) presents serious health risks when ingested such as by drinking water containing colloidal silver. And Ruparelia (2008) adds the interesting observation that bacterial susceptability to colloidal silver varies by species/strain.

Besides argyria and argyrosis, exposure to soluble silver compounds may produce other toxic effects, including liver and kidney damage, irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory, and intestinal tract, and changes in blood cells. Metallic silver appears to pose minimal risk to health. The current occupational exposure limits do not reflect the apparent difference in toxicities between soluble and metallic silver; thus, many researchers have recommended that separate PELs be established. - Drake 2005

Watch out: while there is research supporting the use of colloidal-silver-impregnated water filters (Oyanedel-Craver 2007, Bielefeldt 2009) not all colloidal silver impregnated filters are effective.

A ceramic water filtration system coated with silver particles was created by Ron Rivera of Potters for Peace and used in developing countries for water disinfection. - Wikipedia. An investigation [PDF] into the effectiveness of this silver-coated ceramic water filter was completed in 2001.

That study showed that the silver-treated ceramic filter removed 98-100% of the indicator bacteria present in the source water. The filter does not remove arsenic (and probably not other similar chemicals), and the filter is unreliable for removal of pesticides or VOCs. - See "Investigation of the Potters for Peace Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Filter, Report 1: Intrinsic Ineffectiveness" [PDF]

Effectiveness of colloidal silver as a water disinfectant

Electrolytically dissolved silver has been used as a water disinfecting agent including in drinking water supplies of the Russian Mir orbital space station and the International Space Station.

The World Health Organization includes silver in a colloidal state produced by electrolysis of silver electrodes in water, and colloidal silver in water filters as two of a number of water disinfection methods specified to provide safe drinking water in developing countries.

However, simply using colloidal silver as a direct addition to drinking water can be an unreliable and unsanitary "... water treatment method according to Quackwatch (see REFERENCES) and its use can lead to argyria. Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base.

Watch out: Ceramic water filters [which can be effective if properly used - (Tien 2008, Petros 2011)] should not be confused with attempts to "purify" water by simply adding unreliably formulated colloidal silver products to drinking water. The use of colloidal silver as a bacteriocide is well established (citations below) but its safety and effectiveness as an add-in water disinfectant does not appear supported by research we could find through 2014.

Watch out: a review of more than 400 articles of scholarly research conducted (Google Scholar August 2014) by the editor could not find a single research claim supporting the effectiveness of the direct use of home-made home-mixed colloidal silver in water solutions as a disinfectant - an approach we have observed taken by some homeowners in Mexico.

Watch out: Long-term use of silver preparations can lead to argyria, a condition in which silver salts deposit in the skin, eyes, and internal organs, and the skin turns ashen-gray. ... The official drug guidebooks (United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary) have not listed colloidal silver products since 1975.

In August 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned colloidal silver sellers from claiming any therapeutic or preventive value for the product, noting that colloidal silver was being marketed for numerous diseases without evidence of safety or effectiveness.

The product now has the status of a dietary supplement in the US; it can be promoted with general "structure-function" claims, but cannot be marketed as preventing or treating any illness. Following this ruling, the FDA has issued numerous warnings to Internet sites which have continued to promote colloidal silver as an antibiotic or for other medical purposes. Original source, Wikipedia, includes citations in support of these statements.

In 2002, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) found that there were no legitimate medical uses for colloidal silver and no evidence to support its marketing claims. Given the associated safety risks, the TGA concluded that "efforts should be made to curb the illegal availability of colloidal silver products, which is a significant public health issue."[26].

Water disinfectant effectiveness, particularly using bleach, is also limited by water pH

We explain in this separate but important article that WELL DISINFECTANT pH ADJUSTMENT may also be necessary for effective water disinfection.

Research on the Effectiveness & Safety of Colloidal Silver in Various Applications


Continue reading at WATER DISINFECTION LIMITATIONS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


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