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Colloidal Silver An Analytical Investigative Report and Theoretical Overview
(Revised Version)
By Vince Goetsch © 1997- 2014 Synergenesis, Inc. All Rights Reserved

» Colloidal Silver Toxicology

The following information regarding toxicology is in relation to the general term "silver" and can be reviewed via the links below.

I have looked over the various authoritative sources of data in an attempt to discern a definitive consensus conclusion regarding the issue of toxicology as pertains specifically to colloidal silver. Using data provided by official government and/or other authoritative sources, after years of working toward that end, I repeatedly encounter the same problem.

The problem I encounter is the same one that has always plagued research regarding colloidal silver. It the absence or lack of clearly defined material properties. Specifically, most toxicity data if and when a correlation to colloidal silver is stated or implied, the majority of the time, such data lacks a precise description of the material properties, such as particle size, dispersion medium or even if there is a dispersion medium.

Without a concise material description, such as if the material is an aqueous solution derived from a powder, if the material is a hydrosol, if it is a mild silver protein, a silver salt, or if the dispersion medium is something other than water, the data is then incomplete. When there is a lack of any relevant specifics needed for concise accuracy, the question is; how can anyone consider such data to be complete? It is important to know exactly what the material is that is the subject of toxicology documentation.

It is also important to know how the material cited in toxicology documentation was manufactured.

When it is not clear if the data is in relation to a compound such as silver nitrate, or when any other relevant data is not precisely elucidated, then, at least in terms of ascertaining a concise data-set with regard to something as specific as colloidal silver, it calls into question not only the accuracy of that data, it calls into question the relevancy of such data.

In essence, it is quite clear to me that the same problem that I described in previous sections with regard to misapplication of the term colloidal, is of particular concern and applicability with regard to this topic.

I don't need to do your thinking for you in this regard, because you can review the various data sources directly yourself. There is plenty of information available regarding this topic, some of the most prominent sources are available via the links below.

Rather than having me or anyone else tell you what conclusions to draw, read the data carefully and decide for yourself what conclusions to draw from it.

Unfortunately not everyone favors independent thought and investigation. When colloidal silver is concerned, there is a small cadre of folks who seem particularly interested in shaping public opinion, who also believe, or at least want the public to believe, that colloidal silver is a risk without benefit. Biased is an understatement, such folks are not content to develop and share their beliefs rationally, rather they seem compelled to shape or seek to manipulate or legislate other's opinions to become in lockstep with theirs by questionable means.

If you have read the preceding sections it is difficult to imagine how only negatives and no benefit with regard to colloidal silver could be presented as the historical truth with a straight face.

People who do cite only negatives usually do so armed with sparse outdated data that supposedly represents themselves a medical or scientifically oriented authorities who claim to present their one-sided sole-negatively biased information as if it is a public service.

It is also true that there are those who take the position of touting only benefit or unsubstantiated benefit and no risk, as occurred in relation to events that instigated the FDA rulings in the late 1990s.

The truth of the matter is not found in defending an opinion or ideology. This is not a matter of opinion, and any attempt to present data that purports to be proof solely in either extreme should cause any rational person to be suspicious.

What is needed is balance and truth based on accurate and reliable information derived from sound, accurate, technically applicable, up to date and complete research.

Good luck!


Relevant Information & Links:

"Trace amounts of silver are in the bodies of all humans and animals. We normally take in between 70 and 88 micrograms of silver a day, half of that amount from our diet. Humans have evolved with efficient methods of dealing with that intake, however over 99 percent is readily excreted from the body."

"According to United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) "Silver levels of less than 0.000001 mg silver per cubic meter of air (mg/m³), 0.2-2.0 parts silver per billion parts water (ppb) in surface waters, such as lakes and rivers, and 0.20-0.30 parts silver per million parts soil (ppm) in soils are found from naturally occurring sources. Silver compounds are also found in groundwater and at hazardous waste sites throughout the United States. Drinking water supplies in the United States have been found to contain silver levels of up to 80 ppb. Surveys show that one-tenth to one third of samples taken from drinking water supplies (both groundwater and surface water) contain silver at levels greater than 30 ppb."

Ref http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs146.html


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that the concentration of silver in public drinking water supplies not exceed one milligram per liter of water, i.e. one part per million (1 ppm).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that the concentration of silver in public drinking water supplies not exceed one milligram per liter of water, i.e. one part per million (1 ppm).

Workers in the United States are protected from excess silver exposure through regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Silver in workplace air may not exceed .01 milligrams per cubic meter for an 8-hour workday and a 40-hour workweek. This is the same standard recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).


ToxFAQs™ for Silver

“ Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
The EPA recommends that the concentration of silver in drinking water not exceed 0.10 milligrams per liter of water (0.10 mg/L) because of the skin discoloration that may occur.
The EPA requires that spills or accidental releases of 1,000 pounds or more of silver be reported to the EPA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits silver in workplace air to 0.01 milligrams per cubic meter (0.01 mg/m³) for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also recommends that workplace air contain no more that 0.01 mg/m³ silver.
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends that workplace air contain no more than 0.1 mg/m³ silver metal and 0.01 mg/m³ soluble silver compounds.
The federal recommendations have been updated as of July 1999.”

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 
Division of Toxicology
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-32
Atlanta, GA 30333 
Phone: 1-888-42-ATSDR (1-888-422-8737)
FAX:   (770)-488-4178
Email: ATSDRIC@cdc.gov



The EPA Reference Dose (RFD) for oral silver exposure is 5 micrograms/kg/d with a critical dose estimated at 14 micrograms/kg/d. This is used to calculate the dosage chart linked below. This is the amount that can be safely taken daily over a lifetime (70 years) without adverse affect.

Reference Dose for Chronic Oral Exposure (RfD)

Silver (CASRN 7440-22-4)




-- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Public Health Statement for Silver


-- Silver Metal Material Safety Data Sheet (pdf format)


-- Chemistry: Web Elements Periodic Table: Silver



Toxicity Summary for SILVER

Risk Assessment Information System (RAIS)

Formal Toxicity Summary for SILVER



World Health Organization

Guidelines for drinking water quality (with regard to silver)

Extracted from: Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 2nd ed.
Vol. 2. Health criteria and other supporting information.
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1996. pp. 338-343.

World Health Organization Guidelines for drinking water quality and silver consumption over a life-time via PDF only here


Related Material:


A Discussion of Silver as an Antimicrobial Agent: Alleviating the Confusion
- David W. Brett, MS, BS



Wound Care

Excerpted with permission from WOUNDS. Demling RH, DeSanti L. Effects of silver on wound management. WOUNDS 2001;13(1 Suppl A):1–15. * * *

Source Link


Antimicrobial mechanisms of action of silver

"Despite its long use, the bactericidal mechanisms of action of silver are not fully understood. Russell and Hugo have provided a comprehensive review [2] . Referred to as a 'general protoplasmic poison', ionic silver will interact with multiple target sites within the cell (Figure 1) .

Most of the sensitive sites are likely to be proteinaceous in nature and their alterations will result in structural and metabolic cell disruption. In addition to its bactericidal activities, silver is also fungicidal and virucidal. Its molecular mechanisms of fungicidal action are similar to those against bacteria with protein damage through sulfydryl group interactions. Its virucidal mechanisms of action involve alteration of viral protein, but also damage to the viral nucleic acid [18] ."




Molecular basis for resistance to silver cations in Salmonella

Amit Gupta, Kazuaki Matsui, Jeng-Fan Lo & Simon Silver Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Illinois at Chicago, M/C 790, Room 703, 835 South Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60612-7344, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Amit Gupta agupta@uic.edu



Bacterial silver resistance: molecular biology and uses and misuses of silver compounds

FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Volume 27 Page 341 - June 2003
Interactions of Bacteria With Metals

"Silver compounds are used widely as effective antimicrobial agents to combat pathogens (bacteria, viruses and eukaryotic microorganisms) in the clinic and for public health hygiene. Silver cations (Ag+) are microcidal at low concentrations and used to treat burns, wounds and ulcers. Ag is used to coat catheters to retard microbial biofilm development. Ag is used in hygiene products including face creams, 'alternative medicine' health supplements, supermarket products for washing vegetables, and water filtration cartridges. Ag is generally without adverse effects for humans, and argyria (irreversible discoloration of the skin resulting from subepithelial silver deposits) is rare and mostly of cosmetic concern."

Link: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1016/S0168-6445(03)00047-0


Toxicological aspects of topical silver pharmaceuticals.


Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

PMID: 8726163 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Systemic argyria associated with ingestion of colloidal silver
Akhil Wadhera MD and Max Fung MD
Dermatology Online Journal 11 (1): 12
Department of Dermatology, University of California Davis




"Silver has an established history of preventing infection in burn wounds, and the development of novel silver-containing dressings has sparked a new interest in its use for wound management. Silver has many properties that make it suitable for this purpose. Combining silver with suitable dressings has been shown to decrease some of the unwanted effects associated with the broad-spectrum, non-specific antimicrobial properties of silver, such as toxicity and staining, while increasing the overall antimicrobial efficacy. The safe and effective use of silver dressings is critical to prevent the problem of emerging bacterial resistance, which arises when micro-organisms are in contact with a low (sub-inhibitory) concentration of silver. Most studies on the emergence of bacterial resistance to silver were not related to the use of silver in dressings. However, it could be important to survey silver resistance (or the lack of it) for such an application in situ , or to study the likelihood of the development of such resistance in vitro . The European Wound Management Association has developed practical advice on the use of topical antimicrobials [1] ."

Link: http://www.worldwidewounds.com/2006/may/Maillard/Focus-On-Silver.html#anti-mech


» Next: Some concluding thoughts


Colloidal Silver
An Investigative Overview:




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