At a nanotechnology focused workshop guided by EC Policy Officer Giulia Ciarlo, the deputy director, Martin Seychell that avoiding the stigmatisation of nanomaterials cannot be addressed by regulators alone.
“Having an innovative technology is no guarantee of public acceptance,” Mr Seychell informed the room of cosmetic professionals.
Nanomaterials are already applied to numerous products today in order to equip them with additional properties. 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.
Commission is concerned companies are not taking 'notifying' rules seriously
Currently, regulatory guidelines require that the presence of nanomaterials in cosmetics be indicated on the ingredients list, with the word 'nano' in brackets.
Also, any products containing them must be notified to the Commission, six months before they are placed on the market, and data on identification, specification, quantity, toxicological profile, safety data and foreseeable exposure conditions provided.
Here is where the Commission's concerns come in, and suspects that companies are not taking these requirements seriously enough.
“We can't afford, on this already very complicated subject - to face the situation where the public feels that the regulator and the regulated are not on the same wavelength.”
Thus, the EC is striving to strike a balance between providing flexibility in labeling, and ensuring that information is accessible to all consumers, considering some may not have access to electronic tools, he said.