SILVER - Nature's Water Purifier
Articles within this research page:
Silver's Importance to Health
Silver - Preventing Outbreaks of Legionnaire's
Silver - Reliable Alternatives to Chlorine
Research Quotes with Footnotes
Silver's Importance to Health
Feb 27, 1997
In a world concerned with the spreading of virus and disease, silver
is increasingly being tapped for its bactericidal properties and
used in treatments for conditions ranging from severe burns to Legionnaires
While silver's importance as a bactericide has been documented
only since the late 1800s, its use in purification has been known
throughout the ages. Early records indicate that the Phoenicians,
for example, used silver vessels to keep water, wine and vinegar
pure during their long voyages. In America, pioneers moving west
put silver and copper coins in their water barrels to keep it clean.
In fact, "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" is not
a reference to wealth, but to health. In the early 18th century,
babies who were fed with silver spoons were healthier than those
fed with spoons made from other metals, and silver pacifiers found
wide use in America because of their beneficial health effects.
Helping to Stop Legionnaires Disease
In response to major outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease in the United
Kingdom during the 1980s, the British government has undertaken
studies on the use of .silver in water purification. The disease
is named after Legionella pneumophilia, an aquatic organism which
is widespread in small quantities within natural water sources.
The bacteria presents few problems in naturally-flowing water, but
man-made environments such as cooling towers and hot and cold water
services provide conditions for it to multiply and spread. Infection
is caused by inhaling airborne droplets of particles containing
viable legionella, small enough to travel deep into the lungs and
be deposited in the alveoli.
Recent research compared silver-copper ionization with the use
of high temperatures to destroy bacteria. Contaminated cold water
re infected the hot water system even when temperatures in hot water
heaters reached as high as 60 degrees Centigrade. But experiments
showed that even at lower water temperatures, ionization of soft
water with silver and copper ions was effective against the bacteria.
Ionization showed better results." said Nigel Pavey
principal research engineer for BSRIA Water Services Technology
Centre in Berkshire. And to make certain its benefits are widespread,
"there should be more emphasis on copper-silver ionization
in Iegislation,' he said.
Importance in Burn Therapy
Silver also has had a significant impact on the treatment of burns.
Twenty years ago it was common for the wounds of severely burned
patients to become infected, which delayed healing and sometimes
led to death. Today silver sulfadiazine is used by hospitals worldwide
to kill bacteria allowing the body time to restore the area naturally.
Sulfadiazine is a know antibacterial agent. Combined with silver,
studies show it is at least 50 times more active than other antibacterial
agents. Silvadene now is the most widely used topical treatment
for burn therapy. Other silver compounds also are being developed
for use wherever silver sulfadiazine proves ineffective.
Keeping Plastic Clean
Widespread concerns that viruses can survive in body fluids deposited
on plastic consumer products such as telephones prompted the Institute
for Microbial Diseases in Osaka, Japan to develop a new silver complex
that can be applied for lasting sanitary protection. The product
is marketed under the name Amenitop, and has been shown to reduce
the infection of certain viruses which have been linked to AIDS.
The system consists of silica gel microspheres containing a silver
thiosulfate complex. The silica gel coatings allows a gradual release
of the. silver compound onto the surface, providing long lasting
Promoting Skin Growth
Silver also has been successfully used to grow new skin on accident
victims, including the restoration of fingertips with the original
fingerprint. individuals whose wounds are so severe they lose tissue
below the skin often never fully recover, left with only a thin
layer of skin without the original nerve structure. This inferior
skin layer results in abnormal sensations and intolerance to cold.
Skin grafts cover the wounds but do not restore the functions of
In a treatment developed by Mountain Medical Specialties of Lakemont.
GA. a silver-coated fabric is used to cover the wound. A miniature
battery is connected to the fabric to begin a flow of silver ions
to encourage normal skin growth and eliminate bacteria which generally
prevents complete regeneration of the skin and nerve function. This
method has actually restored the natural skin patterns and sensations
in the palms of hands.
Silver-based water purification units for the home have been in
use in Europe for more than 50 years. Royal Doulton ceramic candles
combine silver within the ceramic during manufacturing to take advantage
of the outstanding bacterial disinfecting properties of silver.
These units meet the National Sanitation Foundation Standards covering
bacteriostatic efficacy, the reduction of lead, copper and particulates
and the reduction of taste and odor. They also have the approval
of the US Environmental Protection Agency as a bactericidal unit.
Eliminating Harmful Bacteria
Tests by researchers at the University of Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences show that silver and copper ions
added to oyster tanks destroy harmful bacteria in the water without
affecting the oysters. Once oysters are harvested from the ocean.
they are cleaned in "depuration° tanks which are prone
to bacteria infiltration. Silver ions added to the water destroy
bacteria and copper ions kill fungus, making an inexpensive and
environmentally friendly combination for keeping oyster tanks clean.
"Silver and copper ionization is the perfect solution,"
,says Richard Ganim, president of Superior Aqua Enterprises in Sarasota,
"The applications for ionization are almost endless,"
Ganim said. Currently ionization is used by chicken farmers to reduce
bacteria and fungus without affecting the health of the chickens.
'We think this system will also work for citrus growers' who routinely
spray their trees with chemicals.
Keeping Oxygen Handling Safe
In hospitals throughout the world, silver makes the handling of
pure oxygen safer. Oxygen at high pressure in liquid form is very
hazardous because some materials ignite or begin harmful chain reactions
when they come in contact with it.
Limiting sparks during oxygen production is of critical importance.
Because silver will not ignite, even at its melting point, the oxygen
compressor design code issued by the Industrial Gas Council in Brussels,
requires that wherever contact between metals occurs, one of the
facing metals must be silver and the other a high-nickel alloy.
This combination provides the lowest probability of sparking during
high-speed compressor operation. The seals in compressor and pumping
equipment are also silver to minimize any possibility of friction
which could ignite a fire. Oxygen pump seals must be manufactured
to extremely close tolerances, and the silver also allows fine machining,
One out of every seven pairs d prescription glasses sold in the
United States incorporates silver to protect patients eyes from
sunlight. Silver halide crystals, melted into glass for sunglasses,
change clear glass from 85 percent visible Iight transmission to
22 percent transmission in less than 60 seconds, a change that is
Helping People With Allergies
For individuals who are allergic to detergents, reusable laundry
disks are providing a solution to their problem. the disks are made
of activated ceramic material with metallic elements
- silver and copper - inside. When the disks are placed in the washing
machine along with the clothes and water, the silver and copper
releases electrons which in turn produce ionized oxygen he]ping
to break up dirt and organic compounds. The disks are sold under
the name Clean Power Plus' and are used three at a time
for about 300 loads.
For more information on any of these medical uses of
silver, please contact Christy Rosche at The Silver Institute (202)
Silver - Preventing Outbreaks of Legionnaire's
Silver Copper System Works Better than High Temperatures to Destroy
Report by: The Silver Institute - Silver News - Feb/Mar 97
Following major outbreaks of Legionellosis (Legionnaires
Disease) in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s the government
came out with safety guidelines for cooling towers which all but
eliminated the problem. Now, however the government has turned its
attention to hot and cold service which now accounts for a significant
number of identified cases of Legionnaires disease in the
Silver is playing a key role in efforts to prevent these deadly
outbreaks. With funding from the government and private industry
the building and services research and information association (BSRIA)
has completed a two year research project to compare the effectiveness
of using silver and copper ionization against the storage of water
at high temperatures to destroy the bacteria.
Ionization showed better results says Nigel Pavey,
Principal Research Engineer for BSRIA. For example, contaminated
cold water re-infected the hot water system even when temperatures
in hot water heaters reached as high as 60 degrees Centigrade. Experiments
showed that even at lover water temperatures, ionization of soft
water with silver and copper ions was effective against legionella.
In showers and hot and cold faucets, ionization was effective against
the bacteria if silver concentration was around 40 micrograms per
Hard water presented a problem however. The electrodes used for
ionization frequently scaled up and the high level of dissolved
solids in the water took the silver ions out of the solution. When
silver ionization levels could be kept up using scaling controls,
the technique was effective.
BSRIAs findings were published in Ionization Water Treatment
for Hot and Cold Water Services available from BSRIA. For more information
fax BSRIA at 44-1344-487575
Silver - Reliable Alternatives to Chlorine
Silver Water Purification Systems Offer Reliable Alternative to
Report by: The Silver Institute - Silver News -
Laguna Niguel, CA (March 25, 1997) - Silver based water purification
systems offer the most reliable and cost effective alternative to
chlorine, a chemical that is increasingly coming under fire for
the carcinogenic by products it leaves in water, according to David
Eaton, secretary of The Institute of Water Ionization Technologies
in the United Kingdom and technical director of Roseland Hydronics
Speaking at the annual meeting of The Gold & Silver Institutes
in Laguna, Niguel, CA. this week Eaton said progressively restrictive
legislation is confronting the use of chemicals, especially chlorine,
which for nearly a century. has been the primary medium for water
With increasing pollution, utilities are forced to put far more
chlorine into the supply chain, Eaton explained. The chemical reaction
that oxidizes impurities when chlorine is added, also forms carcinogenic
byproducts. "Of course these same byproducts have been generated
by chlorination for a long time but never in the quantities that
are now being seen," he said.
Silver offers a healthy alternative. The metal has long been known
for its biocidal properties, Eaton noted. The Ancient Phoenicians.
who stored wine in silver urns to preserve it, provide one of the
earliest recorded examples of the metals use for water purification.
Applying modern technology to this old fashioned principle, The
Institute of Water Ionization Technologies has developed silver
ion generators for municipal water supplies. The market for silver
ionized swimming pool systems has expanded significantly in the
US and overseas, Eaton said. But in Britain, silver ionization is
being developed for mainstream water systems. Machines used to clean
primary water must be much larger and more powerful than small swimming
pool units, and require accurate control mechanisms to ensure that
levels of silver are maintained and kept within drinking water standards.
Eaton discussed a recent project funded by the UK Department of
the Environment to study the control of Legionnaires disease by
using silver ions. The disease is named after Legionella pneumophilia,
an organism that is widespread in small quantities within natural
water sources. The bacteria becomes lethal at a water temperature
of 95 degrees F and can be killed at temperatures between 135 and
140 degrees F.
Of three tests, silver/copper ions in soft water produced the best
results. The copper ion disrupted the enzyme structures of the cell
allowing the silver ion to penetrate inside where it rapidly killed
the cell's life support system. US regulations allow a silver level
of 100 ppb in drinking water, but a silver level of only 20 ppb
A new European Union Drinking Water Standard in draft form has
removed any upper limit for silver in drinking water following the
World Health Organization's Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality
which States, "It is unnecessary to recommend any health-based
guideline for silver as it is not hazardous to human heath.
Eaton said silver ion generators currently are being used in intensive
care and heart transplant units of hospitals, and for poultry processing,
engineering, brewing, cooling towers and swimming pools.
The sale of silver based ionizers is beginning to take off in the
UK and there are promising growth markets in the Scandinavia, Germany,
and the Far East. We calculate that requirements for silver globally
will increase to about two million ounces annually within five years.
For the complete text of Eatons speech, contact The Silver
Institute, (202) 835-0185. For more information contact the Institute
of Water Ionization Technologies, 01621869255 (fax) 01621868211.
Thanks to eye-opening research, silver is emerging as a wonder
of modern medicine. An antibiotic kills perhaps a half dozen different
disease organisms but silver kills some 650. Moreover, silver is
virtually non-toxic. Dr. Harry Margraf of St. Louis, a pioneering
silver researcher, says: "Silver is the best all around germ
fighter we have."
The value of silver in medicine, and as a purifier has been acknowledged
for centuries. Egyptians implanted silver plates into skulls with
surgery. In Ancient Greece and Rome, people used silver containers
to keep liquids fresh. When settlers moved across the American West,
they would purify a container of water by putting a silver dollar
in it overnight. Towards the end of the 19th century, other medicinal
uses for silver were developed including the use of silver and mercury
in filling cavities, and the dropping of a silver filtrate solution
into the eyes of newborn babies to prevent blindness due to infection.
Scores of independent tests have shown that silver promptly kills
bacteria in water and maintains water purity over long periods of
Russian scientists working on water recycling and purification
problems for the Soviet space program have decided on silver as
the best long term sanitation agent. Researching the problems of
water shortage over periods of several months, as well as purification
for immediate use, they determined that ionized silver provides
the safest and longest lasting method of transforming polluted waste
into potable water.
After testing 23 methods of purifying water, NASA has also chosen
silver as the purifying agent on the Space Shuttle program.
Silver was used to provide shuttle crews with pure water for drinking,
air conditioning, food preparation and other operations. By establishing
100 parts of silver per billion parts of water NASA will totally
eliminate the need for chlorine! The most dramatic purification
tests occurred in 1976 in a 20,000 gallon swimming pool in Nebraska.
There was no disinfectant of any kind in the water. Fifty gallons
of municipal sewage waste water was put into the pool. That produced
a dangerous concentration of 7,000 E coli cells per 100 millilitre
[half a cup] of water. Contents of the pool were then pumped through
a tank containing alternating anodic and cathodic silver electrodes
for disinfection. Within three hours the pool was entirely free
of E. coli and the water contained only 3.2 parts of silver per
billion parts of water.
The Allegheny County Health Department in Pennsylvania conducted
tests in a 152,000 gallon pool which previously had been disinfected
by a 50 pounds per day chlorinator. The system was replaced by a
silver system for the swimming pool season of 1974 and 1975. The
County Health Department took up to 50 daily samples and found that
silver ions remained in the pool at the low steady rate of 20 parts
per billion. The water remained free of bacteria throughout the
two seasons. In contrast, 65 water samples from 30 other pools having
a concentration of 700 parts per billion of available chlorine showed
a mean of 1.3 pseudomonas and 7.3 staph cells per millilitre of
The impact of silver technology continues to grow. More than half
of the American soft drink bottling companies, numerous shipping
lines and a host of other enterprises in 70 countries, use silver
to sterilize water. These and many other examples of the expanding
use of silver in water purification have been documented by Dr.
Fred Zobist and presented to the Silver Institute in Washington,
Jim Powell, "Our Mightiest Germ Fighter"; Science Digest,
Dr. Harry Margraf, "The Story of Silver in Medicine";
Gold & Silver Newsletter, September 1974
"Tests Show Silver Best Water Purifier"; The Silver Institute
Letter, December 1976
"Silver Clears Up Polluted Water"; The Silver Institute
Letter, July/August, 1973
Jim Powell, "Our Mightiest Germ Fighter"; Science Digest,
"Winged-Ferry to Shuttle Between Earth and Space"; The
Silver Institute Letter March 1976
"Silver Guards Good Health:'; The Silver Institute Letter,
"Silver Carbon Filter Purifies Swimming Pool"; The Silver
Institute Letter, May 1973