The UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has recently released a report urging for more study of nano-engineered materials, warning that there is a "major gap" in our knowledge of this technology. We've covered the potential dangers of carbon nanotubes here before, but the commission also warns about nano silver, an antibacterial particle that can be found in a variety of clothing, like socks. And in fact, the commission Chair refuses to wear such clothing at all:
I wouldn't recommend nanosilver clothes and I wouldn't wear them myself. At the moment the concentrations are way below anything likely to do damage, but if it became common, it could lead to problems.
The big problems could be not just on your body directly, but what happens if the silver leaves the clothing during wash cycles. If the nano silver leaks into our water supply, it could kill good bacteria we need for purification, let alone create havoc through unpredicted effects. The commission would like to see full disclosure of nanomaterials in manufacturing become mandatory, but they warn it could be 20 years before we have enough data to deem many of these materials safe or hazardous. [BBC via Treehugger]