Concerned by the increasing presence of nano silver in consumer products, the groups have called on policy makers to implement measures such as a mandatory reporting scheme and product inventory to improve knowledge of what is on the market.
The importance of effective risk assessment and ensuring the safety and labelling of products for consumers and the environment such as textiles, cosmetic and personal care products are also suggested by the organizations.
“Although we acknowledge that nanotechnologies could potentially offer great benefits to consumers and the environment, these technologies and materials may also present new risks which have never been evaluated,” says Beuc.
The database first complied in 2009, included an inventory of 151 products claiming to contain nanomaterials available to European consumers, that number then rising to 475 when updated again in 2010.
"Between the two inventories of 2009 and 2010, we observed a tremendous growth of claims related to the use of nano-silver. Prompted by this finding, we decided to dedicate our 2011-2012 market research exclusively to products claiming to contain nano-silver. As a result of our research we found 109 products with nano-silver related claims."
According to the organizations, products with nano-silver claims which were already contained in the previous inventories have been re-checked and included in the latest inventory in case they are still available.
This means, that although the same methodology was used as in previous years, the results are not directly comparable this time. "We only included claims that are explicitly referring to nano-silver, nano-ions or colloidal silver."
Use of nanomaterials in cosmetics
The use of silver ions is widespread in consumer products such as cosmetics, food and textiles due to their antimicrobial properties.
Despite the benefits of nanomaterials (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used as UV filters in sunscreen, for example, and are said to have a high level of efficacy) there is continuing debate over whether they could pose health risks to consumers.
The EU requires that from 2013, the use of nanomaterials in cosmetic products must be declared.