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THE SILVER INSTITUTE LETTER
VOLUME III, Number 5, May 1973
SILVER CLEARS UP POLLUTED WATER
Russian scientists working on water recycling and purification problems for the Soviet space ship and orbiting station program have decided on silver as the best long-term sanitizing agent.
Researching the problems of water storage 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 transtbrmiug polluted waste into potable water.
A significant fact in support of their decision to use silver tbr purification was their experimental confirmation of the absence of toxicity in the silver treated water. In lengthy experiments on animals they found that 100 parts and 200 parts of silver per billion in drink-ing water does not accmnulate in the organism and does not produce any detrimental effect on the functioning of the organs or systems of the experimental animals.
This was also confirmed by year long experiments on volunteer human subjects. The concentration of silver used in these tests . . . 100 parts and 200 parts per billion . . . is in striking comparison with the 10 to 50 parts per billion of silver found in potable water and in swimming pools treated by silver purification systems in the United States.
The scientists, Drs.. S. V. Chizhov. S. P. Pak, N. N. Sitnikova and Y. U. Koloskova. tried many methods of purifying regenerated water but all except the silver system proved unsatisfactory over the long run. Ultra-violet rays and ultra-high-frequency sound reduced micro-organisms by as much as 97% but water thus treated failed to meet standards of acceptibility if the water were stored for any considerable period of time. Chlorine, which is widely used to kill bacteria, requires dosages in thousands of parts per billion compared to the 100 ppb and 200 ppb used in the Russian tests; the chlorine itself is a pollntant fbr certain water uses and it often is dangerous to store or handle. In sum, the Russians found silver to be the safest sterilizing agent, stable, and long-lasting.
The research also showed that decontaminated water may change in reaction to its container. They concluded that polyethylene containers are suitable for the short-term storage of silver-ionized water. For long-term storage of a few months or more, they decided it is better to use a vessel made of polymers of the fluorine plastic group, or metal containers of vitreous enameled aluninum alloy (for lightness in a space ship).
Included among the many experiments conducted by Dr. Chizhov and his associates were those designed to assay the purification of water condensed from the atmosphere inside a simulated space vehicle. The quantity of microorganisms in the regenerated water before the introduction of the ionized silver varied from 200 to 1,900 microbiological parts per milliliter. Tests of the water made 15 to 20 minutes after contact with the ionized silver showed in most cases that in this 15 to 20 minute period, full sterilization had occurred. In a few cases, complete purity was achieved only after 30 to 40 minutes of exposure. Study of controlled samples of the water after 24 to 72 hours showed the continned and complete absence of microorganisms.
The Russians also suggested that the regeneration of water from the byproducts of human activity seems feasible through the use of silver ions as the decontamination agent. In this application they found it desirable to introduce silver ions into the water with the aid of various filtering materials in order to provide the slow dissolving of the silver. Designing the filter and selecting the form in which silver is introduced will allow engineers to establish any desired concentration of silver ions in a given volume of water, they believe.
For more information on health hazards such as chlorine and other drinking water contaminants please read through our "Health Topics" pages or review many of the information sites listed on our research page.
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