Even in the modern era, viral infections remain a leading health problem. As individuals, we need to look for ways to enhance our daily surroundings’ hygiene and thus our wellbeing. It is our social responsibility to take preventative measures since emerging infectious diseases are continue to present public health concerns, with COVID-19 being a recent example. The emergence of new infectious diseases and a possible increase in their frequency demand the most effective and novel therapeutic agents in the technology we use every day, one of which is silver nanoparticles.
The nanotechnology field is one of the most active areas of research in contemporary material science. Every day, the field bristles with discoveries, leading to considerable impact on human quality of life. Many of the everyday innovative items we use all the time can now contain nanoparticles. In particular, silver (Ag), due to its ease of application and advantageous properties, has become very popular as a nanoparticle. Silver has a long history of medical and public health use, dating back at least 6000 years. Before the discovery of antibiotics, silver was used to treat illnesses like pneumonia, tuberculosis, ulcers, and other infections. Advancements in nanotechnology make it possible to harness the benefits of silver as silver ions (Ag+) and silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs). The latter have received considerable attention because of their antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antigerm, antiviral, and anti-mold properties. As the most effective antimicrobial agent known thus far, silver nanoparticles have been tested effective in preventing the growth of common foodborne and airborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus, Pneumo Bacillus, and Salmonella morgani, to name a few.
The diminutive size of silver nanoparticles ranges from 1 to 100nm, and makes them very efficient at interacting with microorganisms. This size is the key advantage that enables the nanoparticles and silver ions released by silver nanoparticles to penetrate the cell walls of a given virus (average size 30-150nm), bacteria (300-50,000nm), and fungi (>2000nm). Scientists have demonstrated that the antibacterial effect of silver nanoparticles is mostly due to the sustained release of free silver ions from the nanoparticles, which serve as a vehicle for silver ions. Silver ions are positively charged and absorbed by the negatively charged surface of the bacteria. As these cross the membrane of the microorganism, they inhibit respiratory function, cell division, and replication processes, ultimately eliminating the microorganism. Silver ions can bind to the DNA/RNA of a virus such as HIV, RSV, and SARS and effectively make them inert. The now-destroyed microorganism is then naturally discarded, while the silver nanoparticles continue to work on other viruses, bacteria, or fungi.
The use of silver nanoparticles as an antibacterial has been accredited by the US FDA, US EPA, Japan SIAA, Korea’s Testing and Research Institute for Chemical Industry, and the FITI Testing and Research Institute. Thanks to these accreditations, it has been used to control bacterial growth in a variety of applications, including surgical masks, wound dressings, biomedical devices, and water filtering. The food industry highly benefits from the wonders of silver nanoparticles as they are used to coat food packaging, deter microbial growth, and extend product shelf life.
The advantage of silver antimicrobial agents is that they can be easily incorporated into several materials, such as plastics and textiles, making them useful in a wide spectrum of applications and maintaining their antimicrobial activity in situ whereas other antimicrobial agents would become unstable in similar conditions. Treating surfaces with silver nanoparticles develops a germ-resistant layer that inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. These particles release silver ions that create uniform antimicrobial protection.
A healthy environment can have a positive impact on people’s peace of mind and the maintenance of active schedules at workplaces and other organizations. A comprehensive hygiene regime and the introduction of antimicrobial surfaces into your daily surroundings significantly reduce microbial load and promote a healthier, more hygienic, and more productive environment. The most frequent settings in our daily lives and the ones we spend the most time in are the workplace and classrooms. Both situations, due to social interactions, facilitate the spread of infectious diseases from person-to-person transmissible pathogens.
As an infection reaches the population at large and becomes more commonplace, individuals may come into contact with the causative agent and spread it on the surfaces they are in contact with. As a matter of fact, we carry over 25,000 germs per square inch just on our phones everywhere we go. What’s more, studies show that 92% of phones have bacteria on them with 16% containing E. coli, a bacteria found in feces. All these germs are likely to lead to infections.