New nano research reveals massive regulatory failure

MEDIA RELEASE Friends of the Earth Australia February 10, 2012

The Australian government’s National Measurement Institute has released early research at the International Conference on Nanotechnology (ICONN) in Perth this week that casts doubt on the nano content of popular sunscreens. This research highlights the failure of state and federal governments to regulate nano-sunscreens.

Scientists from the National Measurement Institute presented results from an unpublished study which show the presence of nanomaterials in sunscreens which have been promoted as non nano. It is understood that all but one of these sunscreens uses the same zinc oxide supplier.

“These research results show that the system is failing us,” said Friends of the Earth Nanotechnology Project campaigner Dr. Gregory Crocetti.

“They indicate that in the absence of government regulation the nanotech industry may be making up its own rules about what constitutes a nanoparticle.”

“The presence of nanomaterials in some “not nano” sunscreens suggests that consumers and some sunscreen companies are possibly being misled.”

“And the Government continues to refuse to regulate a booming nanotech industry that looks more and more like the Wild West.”

“ The Australian government needs to heed the opinions of numerous experts, follow international best practice and close massive nano-regulatory gaps,” said Dr. Crocetti

The European Union currently defines nanoparticles as a natural or manufactured material with one or more dimensions of or less than 100nm*.

“Sunscreens and cosmetics containing nanoparticles in Europe will soon be subjected to rigorous safety testing and labelling since legislative changes there. If Europe can regulate, then Australia certainly can” said Dr Crocetti.

“There is no requirement for safety testing or labelling in Australia despite our very high rates of skin cancer and need for regular use of sunscreens”.

Friends of the Earth is calling for a Senate Inquiry into the Australian Government's mishandling of the regulation of nanotechnology.

For media comment

Dr. Gregory Crocetti (currently in Perth)
0403 733 628

Elena McMaster
0409 503 163

*    The EU definition of a nanomaterial is "a natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm."