Have you ever heard of silver ions (also known as ionic silver)? A hundred years ago, before the advent of modern antibiotics, ionic silver was a commonly used antimicrobial.
However, with more and more bacteria developing resistance to antibiotic drugs, many researchers are once again looking to ionic silver for its broad-spectrum antimicrobial qualities.
Unlike with antibiotics, research from the Washington University School of Medicine has shown that some resistant strains of disease cannot develop with ionic silver — other reports indicate it even kills drug-resistant strains of germs. Ionic silver is also non-toxic and presents virtually none of the side-effects related to antibiotics.
So, how do silver ions work?
When we talk about ‘silver ions’ or ‘ionic silver’, we are referring to silver (Ag) molecules with either an extra electron or a missing electron. Thus, the molecules are unstable and want to pass the electron on to, or take an electron away from, other particles. This characteristic makes silver ions reactive and disruptive to other molecules, such as DNA and other proteins. For example, silver ions cause paired strands of DNA in bacteria to separate and the binding between the protein and the DNA to weaken.
But what does this mean for viruses like COVID-19 and the pandemic?
It is worth noting that ionic silver is often referred to as having ‘antimicrobial’ properties rather than just ‘antibacterial’ properties. This is a crucial distinction given that COVID-19 — and, indeed, many diseases that could involve into epidemics or pandemics in the future — involve viral pathogens, not bacteria.
Viruses are essentially complex protein molecules made up of hundreds or thousands of different atoms joined together. These atoms make up the code of the virus’ DNA — or RNA (ribonucleic acid) in some viruses. When other molecules like silver and oxygen react with those proteins, they break the molecules and destroy the code, which, in turn, kills the virus.
In Europe, ionic silver is widely recognised as an accepted treatment for viral conditions like colds and flu, both types of coronavirus. (Although COVID-19 — or SARS-CoV-2, to use its official name — is frequently referred to as ‘coronavirus’, there are many different kinds.) A study at the University of Arizona also found ionic silver to be effective in deactivating the human coronavirus strain 229E, a virus linked to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Science at the core
Silver ions are at the core of the technology WaivLength uses in the fight against COVID-19.
Our reusable FFP2 face mask is made from medical silicone, which is impregnated with silver ions. These streams of silver ions mean the material is permanently antimicrobial and proven to prevent the growth of E. coli, MRSA, Salmonella and many other viruses and bacteria — ideal for use in a face mask. The silver ions provide ongoing protection by preventing further contamination and colonisation on the surface of the medical silicone. Combined with our replaceable FFP2 filters, this innovative solution helps our customers go the extra mile to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Our O ³14 Ozonator air sterilisation system also works in a similar way to silver ions. The bonds oxygen (O2) molecules to form ozone (O3). Oxygen molecules like to be in pairs, which means the third oxygen molecule becomes highly reactive with genetic material, such as complex protein molecules, and will bond with these molecules through a process called oxidation and destroy them. Through this method, the O ³14 kills a broad spectrum of bacteria and viruses and can sterilise an entire room in a matter of minutes.
We are dedicated to keeping you informed so that you can make the best choices to keep yourself and the people around you safe. Contact us today to find out more about our products.