We Can't See Them, But EU Wants to Better Regulate Nanoparticles in Sunblock, Lipstick, Creams

Makeup Counter photo

Photo of the Muji makeup counter Akira Ohgaki @ flickr.

On Wednesday a majority of the the EU Parliament voted for new EU-wide rules regarding nanocosmetics to take effect in 2012. Nanoparticles may already be a part of your life you just don't know too much about - they are in underwear, socks, and other performance clothing - and another area that could have used a bit of the precautionary principle before consumer products were launched on markets. But is there real cause for concern?The EU's new regulations, which received a majority vote at a Wednesday meeting, are meant to bring more safety to the industry - manufacturers of wrinkle creams, sun lotions and lipsticks that contain specialized nanoparticles would be required to undergo special safety testing before products are released. If the product was found to be harmful it would not be allowed. These rules won't even start until 2012, plus any products already on the market are exempt. From 2012 products will be labeled if they contain nanoparticles toward a specific usage - as the copper in self-tanners .

Today about 5 percent of cosmetics contain nanoparticles but are generally not labeled for consumers. Of special concern are the copper nanoparticles inserted into self-tanning creams. Scientists don't yet know what size of nanoparticles could get into the human bloodstream and cause problems, including clots. Sweden has already banned 27 different sun creams that contained nanoparticles of zinc oxide (but mostly due to the fact that zinc oxide has never been approved as a shield against UV rays).

Recent research in Scientific American has shown that nanoparticles may cause environmental damage by killing beneficial microbes in municipal water and sewage systems. On the other hand, nanogold particles are showing promise in cancer treatments.

The new regulation is the first time that nanomaterials have been addressed in EU legislation. The European Consumers' Association says the new legislation does not go far enough as it still allows general nanomaterials usage without notifying consumers. Via: Ny Teknik
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