Nano-ingredients pose big risks in beauty products

May 18, 2006

Friends of the Earth report highlights unregulated risks of nanoparticles in cosmetics and sunscreens

Engineered nanoparticles are being used in virtually every type of personal care product on the market, from sunscreens and anti-aging creams to shampoos and toothpastes, despite preliminary scientific evidence that many types of nanoparticles can be toxic.

The Friends of the Earth report, entitled “Nanomaterials, sunscreens and cosmetics: Small ingredients, big risks” , details the extensive use of nanomaterials in 116 sunscreens, cosmetics and personal-care products, which are being sold despite a complete absence of safety assessment and regulation of nanomaterials. The report also surveys a growing body of scientific research showing that many types of nanoparticles pose risks to consumers, workers and the environment.

“Some of the biggest names in cosmetics, including L’Oréal, Revlon and Estée Lauder, as well as many lesser known brands, are rapidly introducing nanomaterials into their products and onto the faces and hands of millions of people, despite a growing body of evidence indicating nanomaterials can be toxic to humans,” said Georgia Miller, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth.

“We are extremely concerned that despite clear recommendations from the United Kingdom’s Royal Society two years ago that nanomaterials should be subject to new safety testing prior to their inclusion in consumer products, Australian regulators have failed to require safety testing of nanoscale ingredients prior to their inclusion in cosmetics, sunscreens and personal care products,” said Ms Miller. “This represents one of the most dramatic failures of regulation since the introduction of asbestos.”

“The use of potentially hazardous nanomaterials in personal care products is particularly alarming. These products are used daily, are designed to be applied directly to the skin, may be inhaled and are often ingested. The risks of exposure are significant.”

“Friends of the Earth is calling for a moratorium on the further commercial release of personal care products that contain engineered nanomaterials, and the withdrawal of such products currently on the market, until adequate, publicly available, peer-reviewed safety studies have been completed, and a comprehensive regulatory regime is established to manage the risks associated with nanotoxicity.”

The report is available online at: http://nano.foe.org.au/

For further details: Georgia Miller  (03) 9419 8700; 0437 979 402