Silver gets harmonised CLP classification

ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment has adopted an opinion on a harmonised classification of metallic silver concerning human toxicity and aquatic toxicity. This also includes metallic silver in nano form.

The concluded classification is based on a Swedish proposal for a very stringent classification of metallic silver. Especially the proposed human health classifications such as sensitive to skin (Skin Sens. 1, mutagenic (Muta. 2) and toxic to reproduction (Repr. 1B) caused serious concern in many industrial sectors as such classification would result in severe restrictions on the use of silver. 

Besides use in jewellery, cutlery and for decoration, metallic silver is used for many other industrial purposes. In biocidal products, metallic silver is used as a disinfectant in food, feed and drinking water as well as in cooling and processing systems. Metallic silver is also used in medical devices.

At their meeting in June 2022, the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has instead agreed on the following future classification of silver:

Human toxicity
May cause damage to the nervous system (STOT RE 2; H335 (nervous system))
Suspected of damaging fertility (Repr. 2; H361f)

Aquatic toxicity

  • Silver powder (particle diameter > 100 nm < 1 mm)
    Very toxic to aquatic life (Aquatic Acute 1; H400, M=10) 
    Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects (Aquatic Chronic 1; H410, M=10) 
  • Silver nano (particle diameter > 1 nm ≤ 100 nm)
    Same classification as above for silver powder, but with acute and chronic M-factors of 1,000

Before this classification is implemented it must be formally approved by the EU Commission.

For more information on the use and toxicity of silver, please contact:

Poul Bo Larsen
Tel +45 4516 9478