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People were already aware of the special properties of silver thousands of years ago. Even Alexander the Great considered it essential to carry the drinking water needed for various campaigns in silver containers to ensure its purity. Traditions from this time already describe the magical, healing properties of silver. Today, people take a more sober view – they now talk about silver and the antimicrobial effect as a result of the oligodynamic effect. In drinking water, silver ions (Ag+) have a microbicidal (germ-killing or germ-inhibiting) effect. This makes it possible to conserve drinking water and protect it from recontamination in the long term.
In the case of silver, it is the positively charged silver ions that dock onto the microorganisms (e.g. pathogens such as Legionella, E.Coli etc.) and disrupt the metabolism of the bacteria or lead to cell death in over 30 different mechanisms of action. They act microbially and have a unique long-term effect like no other active ingredient on the market. Products based on chlorine or e.g. hydrogen peroxide cannot be “bound” in water, volatilise and are therefore unsuitable for preservation.
Conservation is the prevention of the multiplication of microorganisms over a longer period of time. However, this requires water of drinking water quality. Disinfection is based on the assumption that there is a high germ load in the water, which is reduced by adding disinfectants to make the water drinkable.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a maximum silver ion concentration of 0.1mg silver (100μg) per litre of drinking water, which has been agreed internationally. In Germany, silver has no longer been listed in the Drinking Water Ordinance since the end of 2017 (until then, the addition was also 100μg/l). However, this does not mean that silver may no longer be used outside the public water supply companies.
The European standard EN 15030 (in Germany: DIN EN 15030) deals with the conservation of water. Here, reference is made exclusively to the active ingredient silver(-ion) when it comes to water conservation.
First. So far, no scientific study can be reported that has demonstrated a harmful effect on the human organism in the above-mentioned concentrations.
Excerpt from BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment – Statement No. 024 of 28 Dec. 2009:
“The BfR also took into account an unrealistic worst-case assumption in which a consumer drinks 2l of water per day from small-scale plants from the age of one to 70, whereby the maximum silver concentration of 0.080 mg/l (80μg) permitted after treatment is exhausted. The BfR concluded that […] there are no health concerns.”
Also, the cities of Atlanta, Denver or New York have a natural silver content of 200 – 300μg/l, without any adverse effects on the health of the affected population so far.