A US Consumer’s Union series of investigations prompted them to write a letter to the FDA asking that the organization require a full safety assessment on the use of nanoparticles in cosmetics, sunscreens and sunblocks before a product is allowed to market. In addition, the group has called for the labelling of nanoparticles in products so that consumers can make an informed choice.
Such a labelling requirement would acknowledge that 1) the size of a particle may affect its behaviour, and 2) these as yet unknown effects may be putting the public and the environment at risk.
The investigation by the Consumer Group, done in July of 2007, looked at 8 mineral based sunscreens. They found that all 8 contained nanoparticles of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, although only one disclosed this fact on the label.
(From an article by Katie Bird, Size Matters When It Comes to Cosmetics, Nov 13, 2008 in http://www.cosmeticsdesign.com/On-Your-Radar/Nanotechnolgy}
Marie Veronique Organics subscribes to the precautionary principle when it comes to nanoparticles. There are any number of common sense reasons for proceeding with caution in this area. Safety tests have not been done, and the technology is so new we will not have knowledge of possible side effects for years to come. For instance, scientists very recently discovered that nanoparticles may damage DNA remotely, without crossing any tissue barriers. This means that nanoparticles may be able to damage fibroblasts without penetrating the epidermis.
This finding supports our contention that until the jury is in we as manufacturers need to err on the side of caution. It also brings up an important question about the information we provide our customers. In the future full disclosure should mean not just listing ingredients, but also, where appropriate, stating particle size. We’d like to be the first to announce our Particle Size Profile, and here it is, in brief.
In fact, we’d like to see more precautionary steps taken. For example, how about requiring that manufacturers state the size of the particles that are contained in a product, so the consumer knows exactly what he/she is getting? We’d like to be the first to announce our Particle Size Profile, and here it is, in brief.
Zinc Oxide: effective diameter = 1488.4 nm (1.48 microns)
Beige iron oxide: effective diameter=18162.8 nm (18 microns)
Note: A nanoparticle is a particle between 1-300 nm in size (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter). MVO zinc oxide particles are well outside this definition, and may be labeled “bulk size” particles.
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