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27 October 2009 Basque Research

Scientists Examine Health Impact of Engineered Metal Nanoparticles Present in Sunscreen

Nano-based sunscreens are designed to encapsulate UV-filters in nano-scale glass balls
Nano-based sunscreens are designed to encapsulate UV-filters in nano-scale glass balls.
Image Credit: Reuters.

CIC biomaGUNE is researching the possible impact on health of metal oxide nanoparticles, such as those of zinc, cerium, titanium and iron. These nanoparticles have numerous practical applications and are present in commercial products as varied as sun creams, protection agents for ultraviolet rays, fuel mixtures, paints, anti-electrostatic coatings and electronic circuits.

These microscopic particles are made up of metal ions the concentration in living organisms of which is normally low. The incorporation of nanoparticles that can eventually degrade within the organism can increase the concentration of these ions. Currently it is unknown how it will affect biochemical processes both at cell level and at the level of the organism itself.

The research is being carried out within the framework of the European HINAMOX (Health Impact of Engineered Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles: Response, Bioimaging and Distribution at Cellular and Body Level) project, Research work has just begun this October and is being led by CIC biomaGUNE until the end of the project, anticipated to be for the end of 2012. One of the main objectives of the Basque centre is bringing basic scientific research closer to the eventual needs of the technological and industrial development of the Basque Country. From this new lines of research are initiated, such as HINAMOX, closely related to the social aspects of technological development. Knowledge about the effect of nanoparticles and nanomaterials on health is an essential step prior to the marketing and widespread use of nanotechnology-based products.

Taking part in the HINAMOX project are a number of academic institutions and research centres from various European countries, as well as from Mexico and China. The idea of the participation of these countries is to provide the project with a global dimension that could be beneficial for the European nanotechnology industry.

With the financing of the 2.3 million euros obtained from the “Health, Safety and Environmental Impact” Call, within the VII Framework Programme of the European Union, HINAMOX is organised around a series of research work packages amongst which is the manufacture of nanoparticles, their marking with fluorescent and radioactive tracers, the physiochemical characterisation of manufactured nanoparticles and of those on the market, studies of their concentration and distribution at cell and organism levels, the study of immune response and of exposition to these nanoparticles and, finally, a final risk evaluation.

Source: Basque Research /...

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