Saturday, July 26, 2014

ABC environmental activist misrepresents state of knowledge on sunscreen nano-particles

ABC's resident activist (one of many) Sara Phillips has another piece on nano-particles that misrepresents the science, and gives activists precedence over experts. Titled: Nano sunscreen may be made dangerous by detergent the article commences with an outright lie and just spirals into nonsense from there on.

"While the jury is still out on the safety of nano-particles in sunscreen, when combined with common household products, it may react in unexpected ways."

The jury is not out, it came in a while ago! Nano-particles in sunscreen are safe! 

The following comes from the CSIRO's website: 
Are sunscreens that contain nanoparticles safe to use?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which is responsible for regulating sunscreens in Australia, reviewed the scientific literature in 2006 and concluded that:
  • 'There is evidence from isolated cell experiments that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can induce free radical formation in the presence of light and that this may damage these cells (photo-mutagenicity with zinc oxide).'
  • 'However, this would only be of concern in people using sunscreens if the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide penetrated into viable skin cells.'
  • 'The weight of current evidence is that they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer dead layer (stratum corneum) of the skin.'

The TGA updated its review in 2009, and again in 2013. The 2013 review concluded that ‘on current evidence, neither TiO2 nor ZnO NPs are likely to cause harm when used as ingredients in sunscreens’.

The following by Paul Wright (Associate Professor, Head of the Nanosafety Research Group, School of Medical Sciences at RMIT-University, founding co-ordinator of both Nanosafe Australia ( and Asia Nano Safe research networks, and nanosafety advisor to the Australian Nanotechnology Network (ANN). 

Time to dispel the fear of nanoparticles in sunscreens
Not all nanoparticles behave in the same way biologically, nor are all of them potentially hazardous. Indeed, many engineered nanoparticles are designed with both function and safety in mind. The substance that the nanoparticle is made from is of vital importance in any hazard assessment. And nano zinc oxide has been thoroughly assessed for safety when used in sunscreens and in lip products.

Excessive UV light on the other hand, poses a serious risk for skin damage and cancer. Rest assured that the nano sunscreens can be used safely, so don’t stop using the most effective broad spectrum sunscreen as part of your sun protection measures.

I recommend using non-aerosol zinc oxide sunscreens containing either nano or bulk particles. Their broad spectrum UV filtering ability (including the UVA range), and high UV resistance and negligible skin absorption make them the safest and best way to protect yourself from sunburn. If still in doubt, know that the same conclusions were made by the USEnvironmental Working Group in their 2012 sunscreen report.

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