May 19, 2006
Environmental organizations question nanoparticle sunscreen safety
A coalition of environmental organizations has petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration on the safety of engineered nanoparticles in sunscreens and other products. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the International Center for Technology Assessment, the ETC Group, Clean Production Action, the Center for Environmental Health, Our Bodies Ourselves and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition want the FDA to order manufacturers to stop producing sunscreens containing engineered zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles until broader nanotechnology regulations are implemented, as well as to recall existing products.
The coalition has asked that the FDA requires nanoparticle-specific health and safety testing and labelling of nanoparticle ingredients for all products that contain nanoparticles, not just sunscreens. The bodies also want the reclassification of sunscreens containing nanoparticles as new drugs, so that they must undergo a new drug application.
Friends of the Earth has issued a report entitled "Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics: Small Ingredients, Big Risks". The document details the use of nanomaterials in more than 116 sunscreens, cosmetics and personal care products, such as deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioner, anti-wrinkle cream, perfume and after-shave lotion. The materials include nanoscale metal oxides, fullerene molecules and "nanocapsules".
"Engineered nanoparticles are being used in virtually every type of personal care product on the market, from sunscreens and anti-ageing creams to toothpastes, despite preliminary scientific evidence that many types of nanoparticle can be toxic," said Lisa Archer, senior health and environment campaigner with Friends of the Earth US. "Corporations should stop marketing nano-laced products until these materials are proven safe and stop treating their customers like guinea pigs."