Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 2295–2313 | Cite as

Is using nanosilver mattresses/pillows safe? A review of potential health implications of silver nanoparticles on human health

  • Sriram PrasathEmail author
  • Kavitha Palaniappan
Review Paper


Human exposure to engineered nanoparticles has become inevitable in today’s extensive commercial use and large-scale production of engineered nanoparticles. Even though several studies have characterised the exposure to nanomaterials during wakeful state (related to occupational exposures and exposures from commercially available particles), very few studies on human exposure during sleep exist. As the study of exposure to all possible nanomaterials during sleep is extensive, this study focuses on exposure to specifically silver nanoparticles which are present in beddings and mattresses. The reasoning behind the use of silver nanoparticles in bedding and related materials, possible routes of entry to various population groups in several sleep positions, exposure characterisation and toxicity potential of such silver nanoparticles are reviewed in this study. The toxicity potential of silver nanoparticles in vivo tests with relation to mammals and in vitro tests on human cells has been tabulated to understand the risks associated during oral, dermal and inhalation exposure to silver nanoparticles. The exposure to humans with regard to dermal absorption and oral intake has been summarised. Although potential inhalation exposure to silver nanoparticles is increasing, only a few studies address the possible toxic effect of inhaled silver particles. Determination of exposure to silver nanoparticles in beddings is a topic that has been less researched, and this review aims to provide background information for future research and help establish a comprehensive risk assessment during sleep in the times of increasing usage of nanoparticles in our daily activities. Despite the current limitations of our understanding, risk assessments must utilise the available data and apply extrapolation procedures in the face of uncertainty, in order to address the needs of regulatory programs. This would enable safe use of the antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles without negatively impacting human health. Until then, it would be better to adopt a conservative approach on the usage of silver nanoparticles in daily used commercial items.


Silver nanoparticles Sleep exposure characterisation Toxicity Exposure Mattress and pillow exposure 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NewcastleCallahanAustralia
  2. 2.University of NewcastleSingaporeSingapore

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