The Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. ("NRDC") filed a petition for review in the Ninth Circuit of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA") December 1, 2011, regarding the conditional registration of the antimicrobacterial products HeiQ AGS-20 and HeiQ AGS-20 U, which contain nanosilver.  Conditional registration permits the Swiss company HeiQ Materials AG to sell HeiQ AGS-20 and HeiQ AGS-20 U for use in fabrics while it conducts studies over the next four years of the effects on humans and the environment.

The NRDC argues that EPA prematurely granted registration without sufficient data regarding potential harms.  According to the NRDC, conditional registration typically occurs for products containing ingredients that previously were thoroughly tested and approved.  In this case, EPA based the registration, at least in part, on its earlier assessment of silver, a potential toxin, from which nanosilver is engineered.  The NRDC, however, argues that the small size of nanosilver may permit it to penetrate the human body in ways other forms of silver cannot, which requires testing prior to the grant of approval.

The lawsuit, captioned Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-70268 (9th Cir. 2012), was filed on January 26, 2012.  The parties will submit briefs this spring.