The Institute of Nanotechnology Responds

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:20 am    Post subject: The Institute of Nanotechnology Responds Reply with quote

The Institute of Nanotechnology Responds to ‘Small Wonder: Nanotechnology and Cosmetics’

Background: In a report published in November 2008, the UK consumer magazine Which? identified the most common nanoparticles in cosmetics, and calls for testing of these particles to ensure their safety.

Which? asked cosmetics producers to identify the kinds of nanoparticles in their products and to provide details of any safety testing. Which? discovered that several cosmetic products do in fact contain soluble or insoluble nanoparticles which impart specific properties. The insoluble nanoparticles may pose a health risk, but are in the main limited to a very few kinds. Most companies claim to have extensively tested their products, but the tests may not be sufficient to identify all risks.

In order to reinforce confidence in the safety of cosmetic products, Which? has called for a series of actions. They asked that companies report their use of manufactured nano materials; that potentially unsafe and illegal products to be removed immediately from sale; that an independent expert group to be established to advise the Government on the risks and benefits of nano sunscreens. They also suggested that the new EU Cosmetics Regulation should include a positive list of manufactured nano materials permitted in cosmetic products, and that clear information on the use of nano materials in cosmetics, as well as nanotechnology in general, should be provided.

The Institute of Nanotechnology, a UK based charity which promotes a better understanding of nanotechnology and its applications, broadly agrees with these recommendations. On its website, it commented:

“The safety or otherwise of most of the nanoparticles identified in the Which? report is already known or could be established relatively quickly. If a nanoparticle type presently used in a cosmetic is deemed likely to pose a threat to human safety, then the product containing that particular kind of nanoparticle should be withdrawn. In the future, safety testing for each insoluble nanoparticle that the cosmetics industry wishes to introduce into its products should be mandatory”.

“The cosmetics industry is far from trivial - although it is an industry that is often overlooked when Governments highlight organizations which contribute most to the economic well-being of a country! It has been said that more money is spent globally on cosmetics than defence - how much nicer to be a producer of moisturizing creams and lipsticks than cluster bombs and mines!

“From the list of nanoscale ingredients in the cosmetic products gleaned by Which?, it is apparent that nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are key components in many cosmetic preparations. Hydroxyapatite is also mentioned, as is nanosilver. There are others, some of which have been borrowed from the pharmaceutical sector, such as soluble nanoemulsions and liposomes, which have mostly already been subjected to the rigorous safety testing required of that industry, and are of less concern.

“Anxieties as to the safety of cosmetics containing nanoparticles therefore hinge on the possible health risks of a relatively few nanoparticle types. Importantly, new research by nanotoxicologists is every day adding to our sum of knowledge about these nanoparticles, as to which are safe and which may pose a hazard to health, enabling informed decisions to be made about products containing them.

“In conclusion, the Institute of Nanotechnology unequivocally concurs with the actions recommended by Which?, and in order to maintain confidence in this important industry sector, agrees that Government should implement these actions now”.

Note: The Institute of Nanotechnology strongly supports the use of validated, in-vitro toxicological procedures, and expects that the safety of nanoparticles used in cosmetics can be assessed using these procedures, without recourse to live animal experiments.

* Which? report 'Small Wonder: Nanotechnology in Cosmetics' (November 2008)

Source: Ottilia Saxl,
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