Calls for moratorium amid concerns risky nanoproducts are being rushed to market

March 13, 2006

Friends of the Earth today called for a moratorium on the further release of commercial products containing nanoparticles until serious concerns about their safety are addressed.

Their call follows last week’s release of the world’s first publicly-accessible inventory of consumer products that contain nanoparticles by the US Woodrow Wilson Centre. 

The inventory catalogued over 200 consumer products containing nanoparticles, including face cream, tooth paste, shampoo, deodorant, sunscreen and a wide range of cosmetics. It also included a surprising number of food products including chewing gum, canola oil, nutritional supplements and meal-replacement milkshakes.

“The growing number of commercially available products containing nanoparticles is a serious concern given the results of studies that point to the increased risk of toxicity associated with nano particles,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“Preliminary studies have demonstrated that fullerenes (‘buckyballs’) can cause brain damage to fish, kill water fleas and produce a toxic response in human liver cells. However these nanoparticles are being incorporated into consumer products designed to be used directly on the human skin, without product manufacturers being required to demonstrate their safety.” 

“The UK Royal Society has warned that free nanoparticles in consumer products introduce new and significant risks to both consumers and the workers who manufacture them,” said Ms Miller. “For this reason, the Royal Society recommended that cosmetics containing nanoparticles should be subject to rigorous independent safety testing prior to their commercial release.”

” However no regulations exist any where in the world to require manufacturers to conduct safety testing of nanoscale ingredients before products are released onto the market. There is a growing body of scientific evidence raising concerns about nanoparticles’ toxicity, there is a rapid increase in the number of nano products on the market, yet the regulators seem to be asleep at the wheel.”

“There is an urgent need for a moratorium on the research, development and manufacture of commercial products that contain nanoparticles until we can resolve serious concerns about their safety.”

“Products containing nanoparticles should not be commercially available until we have a regulatory regime in place that will protect the safety of consumers, workers and the environment from the risks associated with nanotoxicity,” said Ms Miller.

The full report of the US Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is available at http://www.nanotechproject.org/index.php?id=44

For further information contact:
Georgia Miller 0437 979 402
Friends of the Earth