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Posted: August 14, 2007
Friends of the Earth releases guide to help consumers avoid potentially harmful nanoparticles in sunscreens
(Nanowerk News) Friends of the Earth has released Nanoparticles and Sunscreens: A Consumer Guide for Avoiding Nano Sunscreens (pdf download; 4.5 MB), which includes information about the health and environmental risks that nanoparticles may pose. The guide also contains the results of a survey of sunscreen manufacturers that can help consumers choose which products to use.
"When people use sunscreen, they expect it to protect their skin from sun damage and the possibility of cancer. It is unacceptable for the government to allow the very products Americans buy to protect themselves to threaten their health," said Ian Illuminato of Friends of the Earth, who authored the guide.
Nanotechnology is the new science of the manipulation of materials on the scale of atoms and molecules. Scientific studies have shown that there are potential health hazards when nanoparticles used in sunscreens are absorbed by the body. Such problems include DNA damage, change in the function of cells, and even cell death.
Friends of the Earth surveyed 128 sunscreen manufacturers to determine whether their products contain nanoparticles. More than 90 manufacturers refused to answer, underscoring the need for new rules to ensure consumers can be better informed. Only nine companies reported that their sunscreens are nanoparticle free.
"The fact that the majority of these companies won't even say what their sunscreens contain is a cause for concern," Illuminato said. "The government really has to get moving here and put labeling requirements in place."
Nanoparticles in sunscreen have been found to have no correlation with sun protection, and are mostly used to enhance the aesthetics of the lotion, such as a transparent formula as opposed to opaque white.
Friends of the Earth, along with the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), has also filed legal action against the FDA because the U.S. government does not have any safety standards in regard to nanotechnology. Extensive research on certain nanomaterials and proper labeling for all cosmetic products that contain nanoparticles are some of the demands filed.