Nanotechnology Fights Infections

Several companies are researching and experimenting with silver nanoparticles that may prevent infections by killing organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and other kinds of infectious bacteria and viruses. In their research laboratories, the companies are using silver (colloidal or ionic silver) or silver in solution as a potent antibacterial product.

Silver is used as an enhancement in making bandages, dressings, and other health-care products. The silver nanoparticles or nanocrys-tals kill bacteria, viruses, and germs. The technicians break down silver into nanoparticles that are much smaller than naturally occurring particles. This process creates greater solubility and an improved ability for the silver atoms to migrate through a germ's cell walls to kill the organism.

The antibacterial and antiviral properties of silver are found in the products of other industries as well. One shoe manufacturer is using silver fiber built into shoes to prevent foot fungus and bacteria from growing. This is important to diabetics, as they are prone to serious foot infections such as gangrene, which can result in amputation of the foot or limb if infection is allowed to set in.

Several manufacturers of outdoor equipment are also using silver fiber in their products to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing in their sleeping bags, cold-weather jackets, hiking clothes, and cycling jerseys.

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